ICL Services
25 October 2017


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Organized power of nature. The experience of internal environmental initiatives in ICL Services

Until 2012, Russia's environmental movement had been spontaneous. In 2012, the government increased the priority of environmental issues by publishing "Foundations of Government Policy in the Sphere of Environmental Development of the Russian Federation to 2030". This emphasized the environmental contribution of government bodies, environmental organizations, societies and companies.

At the same time, business is a powerful tool for creating environmental habits among people. Its influence covers employees themselves, their families and the local and even global community.

We believe that there are two main motives for the environmental motivation of business.

  1. Potential savings or profits from implementing environmental standards (for example, preserving resources at a plant, factory, etc.). In this case "environmental tasks" = "business tasks", and the company invests in them.
  2. Solving problems without direct economic benefit – or because "the Earth is our home", or for PR purposes. This often happens with non-production companies: auditing agencies, law firms, IT-companies, etc. There are usually good reasons for why resources for environmental tasks are limited: they need to be found.

Our IT-company ICL Services belongs to the second type. But we are developing a large corporate social responsibility program, including the environment, and our experience shows:

  • We don't need big investments or a financial incentive to develop environmental initiatives;
  • The main goal of internal environmental initiatives is to attract the attention of employees to the issue, engage them and support their activities;
  • There are enough green enthusiasts within the company to support continuous environmental activities.
How we launched the environmental movement

Now we have an entire team of green activists: more than 20 permanent participants and up to 150 volunteers who join events they are interested in. It was started four years ago by two employees who came to the company's management with the following suggestions:
  • organize active leisure for colleagues – a bike ride together with clearing garbage from suburban lakes and a picnic at the end;
  • put battery disposal cans in offices, and then take them for recycling.
The company supported both suggestions: initiatives were announced through "official" channels, and the organizers received the necessary help. When other concerned employees noticed this support, they also began to suggest ideas: greening activities, waste paper collection, etc. This led to the creation of a group of green enthusiasts – people who are inspired by the environment, charity and sports. The team grew via word of mouth: new colleagues joined after several events. If the team grows, then the number and diversity of environmental initiatives also grows.

How we support the environmental movement "simpler" = "better"

Time-management teaches us: if you're procrastinating while performing a task, try to find out what don't you like about it. When you remove an obstacle, it is easier to complete the task. We've used the same method for organizing environmental activities. Employees are happy to take part, because the company makes it easy, for example:

  • it buys and transports trees and tools for greening events;
  • it puts boxes for waster paper collection and battery disposal in the office;
  • it provides transport for taking trips out of the city, etc.
The initiator of an environmental event can delegate the most difficult organizational tasks to event-managers from the HR department and employees from the administrative department. All the participants have to do is turn up to the event on time.

How it works. Examples

This is what our volunteers have done during 2017.

  • They agreed on corporate participation in the regional event "Avenue of Memory" – planting apple trees in memory of heroes of the Great Patriotic War in city parks. The company helped to create awareness and provided tools. As a result more than 30 employees joined this activity.
  • The team organized an 85-kilometer bike ride with a "green" excursion to an arboretum for more than 70 colleagues. The company helped to create awareness and paid for the tickets. We showed you don't need a car for long-distance trips.
  • The team visited an orphanage and organized a celebration with personal interaction, active games and workshops for the children.
  • They visited an animal shelter, helped workers and donated money and more than 30 kg of food.
  • They developed a mobile application for internal car sharing. This helps employees who live near each other to give each other a lift to and from work. Give a colleague a lift and reduce the number of cars on the road: this is good for the environment and employees will save on gas.
Not everybody has time to plant trees. That's why enthusiasts suggested putting boxes for waste paper, plastic and old clothes in the office. They are easily available, so green recycling activities are the most popular – hundreds of people take part.

  • We have been collecting batteries since 2014. When batteries end up in dump sites, they contaminate the earth, water and air with toxic agents. But when batteries are thrown away in the office, they are then sent for safe disposal. Some colleagues like this activity so much that they even bring batteries from relatives and friends, so that they don't dispose of them in their daily garbage. For the first 8 months of 2017 we managed to dispose of more than 100 kg of batteries.
  • PET bottles from special containers are taken for recycling by our administrative service. This is a great example of an initiative supported by the company's internal departments.
  • During summer 2017, green enthusiasts installed containers for old clothes. We send clothes that are in good condition to environmental markets or take them to orphanages. We take clothes that are in bad state for recycling: it is more environmentally friendly to recycle clothes than to make new clothes from raw materials.
  • Also in summer 2017 we organized waste paper collection for the first time in the office.
Intermediate result: expenses and results

The company currently invests in environmental activities:

  • 2–4 hours working time, 1–4 employees from the HR and administrative department every week (to organize environmental events);
  • 30 minutes working time, 8–10 permanent members of the green team every week (for a reporting and planning meeting);
  • insignificant funds – if necessary (purchase trash cans for batteries, transport trees for planting by company van, etc.).
Results include:

  • a uniting effect. Helping the world together is a powerful team-building factor for the whole company. This is a non-financial driver for enthusiasts. By the way, many of them are key experts: experienced engineers, team-leads, sales managers and even department managers;
  • ticket for the environmental companies club. The number of Y-generation people in the labor market is growing, and the Z-generation is on its way. Many of them would prefer to join a green company.
We launched and support environmental and charity initiatives because we like the results. We like to see that we are making the world a kinder and cleaner place. But even if we just look at environmental activity pragmatically, we think that we have found the right balance.

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