It doesn’t have to be Earth Day to stop and think about environmental responsibility, and how it affects the workplace. Beyond the obvious benefits to the planet, there are several reasons why going green makes good business sense.
- It saves money. When companies focus on reducing their environmental impacts, they generally find they reduce their costs, too. Installing more efficient lighting, heating, cooling, and plumbing systems incurs some upfront costs, but over time it can create significant savings in energy and water use. Plus, UCLA research has shown that employees whose companies voluntarily adopt sustainable practices and standards are 16 percent more productive than average.
- Customers care. Research shows that people are more willing to spend their money at businesses that share their concern for the environment. For example, a Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility found that 42 % of Americans are “willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.”
- Recruiting depends on it. A recent study found that more than 70% of Americans want to work for a company whose leadership is actively involved in corporate responsibility and/or environmental issues. And Millennials are especially committed to finding an employer who shares their dedication to sustainable corporate behavior.
At Unum, we recognize the critical importance of corporate environmental responsibility. “Unum has a strong focus on reducing our impact on the environment and promoting sustainable behavior in our communities,” says Nick Cookson, our corporate sustainability manager. “It’s a fundamental part of our operations.”
This focus translates to programs aimed at minimizing our company’s waste, water usage and energy consumption, as well as initiatives promoting social and environmental justice — key components of a sustainable future for everyone. Most recently, we’ve pursued innovations in waste collection and lighting and installed electric vehicle charging stations in several company garages.
Like most sustainability efforts, Unum’s programs depend in large part on the passion of its people. Employee Green Teams in all our major locations organize our Earth Day and America Recycles Day events, and volunteer in the nationwide Green Apple Day of Service, among other initiatives. It’s one way we engage employees in the company’s environmental mission and build connections that strengthen our business.
“It takes everyone working together to make a difference,” says Cookson. “We intend to make each year better than the next — for our shareholders, our employees and our communities. That’s what it means to be a sustainable company.”