Step 1: Read, Assess, and Analyze.Answer the assignment questions for this exercise after reading about corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Chapter 9. In addition, visit the Nestlé website at www.nestle.com and view the information on the “Creating Shared Value” page. The exercise should help you to gain an understanding of the concepts of corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability and of how companies balance these duties with economic responsibilities to shareholders.
Burt’s Bees: A Strategy Based on Corporate Social ResponsibilityBurt’s Bees is a leading company in natural personal care, offering nearly 200 products including its popular beeswax lip balms and skin care creams. The brand has enjoyed tremendous success as consumers have begun to embrace all-natural, environmentally friendly products, boosting Burt’s Bees’ revenues to more than $160 million in 2012. Much of Burt’s Bees’ success can be attributed to its skillful use of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a strategic tool to engage customers and differentiate itself from competitors.
While many companies have embraced corporate social responsibility, few companies have managed to integrate CSR as fully and seamlessly throughout their organizations as Burt’s Bees. The company’s business model is centered on a principle referred to as “The Greater Good,” which specifies that all company practices must be socially responsible. The execution of this strategy is managed by a special committee dedicated to leading the organization to attain its CSR goals with respect to three primary areas: natural well-being, humanitarian responsibility, and environmental sustainability.
Natural well-being is focused on the ingredients used to create Burt’s Bees products. Today, the average Burt’s Bees product contains over 99 percent natural ingredients; by 2020, the brand expects to produce only 100 percent natural products.
Burt’s Bees’ humanitarian focus is centered on its relationships with employees and suppliers. A key part of this effort involves a mandatory employee training program that focuses on four key areas: outreach, wellness, world-class leadership, and the environment. Another is the company’s responsible sourcing mission, which lays out a carefully prescribed set of guidelines for sourcing responsible suppliers and managing supplier relationships.
A focus on caring for the environment is clearly interwoven into all aspects of Burt’s Bees. By focusing on environmentally efficient processes, the company uses its in-house manufacturing capability as a point of strategic differentiation.
Burt’s Bees faced some consumer backlash when it was purchased recently by The Clorox Company, whose traditional image is viewed in sharp contrast to Burt’s Bees values. But while Burt’s Bees is still only a small part of Clorox’s total revenue, it has become its fastest-growing division.
Sources: Company websites; Louise Story, “Can Burt’s Bees Turn Clorox Green?” The New York Times, January 6, 2008; Bill Chameides, “Burt’s Bees Are Busy on the Sustainability Front,” Huffington Post, June 25, 2010; Katie Bird, “Burt’s Bees’ International Performance Weaker than Expected,” CosmeticsDesign.com, January 6, 2011; “Burt’s Bees, Marks & Spencer Share Staff Engagement Tactics,” EnvironmentalLeader.com, May 31, 2011;Step 2: Respond to the Questions.After reading about the company and doing some research, respond to the following questions. DO NOT write out the questions as part of your answers!Explain how Burt’s Bees’ ecological impact and environmental practices is an example of the triple bottom line performance metric related to planet. Provide examples to back up your reasoning.Provide examples to illustrate Burt’s Bees’ CSR strategies of the triple bottom line performance metric related to people.Burt’s Bees emphasizes sustainable business practices, defined as ways of doing business that are capable of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of the future. Explain how they plan and execute this practice.
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