26
Feb 14

The Current Water Crisis, And How Businesses Are Doing their Part

If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that California’s drought is receiving national attention. On the heels of Governor Brown declaring a state of emergency due to the drought, President Obama visited California to pledge federal aid last week. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have both covered the reasons for and consequences of California’s water scarcity in recent months. The stakes are high.

In the midst of the doom and gloom, we were heartened to see this report disseminated by Protect the Flows, a group of businesses dedicated to a healthy and flowing Colorado River. While the Colorado River was named the No. 1 most endangered river in the U.S. in 2013, the report captures a number of case studies documenting how some of America’s most recognizable brands are curbing their water use in the Colorado River Basin, by up to 50 percent. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programs, companies like MGM International, AT&T, New Belgium Brewery, and Life Technologies are leading the way in developing innovative technologies and processes to become more efficient with water, and reduce their costs at the same time. This is a win-win for all of us.

Read the full white paper here.


04
Feb 14

Doing Good Isn’t Good Enough

Maximize CSR EngagementImagine this hypothetical scenario:

There are two restaurants within equal distance of your office: Restaurant A and Restaurant B.

Both serve similar food, at similar prices. Their menus are nearly identical. The service is identical. On the surface, they are virtually indistinguishable. Except for a few small differences:

Restaurant A sources their food locally; Restaurant B does not.

Restaurant A provides a clean, safe working environment for their employees; Restaurant B? Not so much.

Restaurant A has a robust recycling program and responsibly disposes of its waste. Restaurant B sends all their waste to the landfill.

Knowing this, which restaurant would you choose?

Clearly, you would choose Restaurant A. And you wouldn’t be alone.

According to a 2013 study by Cone Communications, given similar price and quality, 91% of consumers are likely to switch to brands that are associated with good causes.

Of course this is an oversimplified example, but it illustrates a valuable point: Businesses that are also good corporate citizens are favored in the eyes of consumers.

And it’s not just about clients and customers. A wide range of stakeholders are becoming increasingly sensitive to the impact that businesses have on people and the environment. Employees, investors, trade associations, public agencies and the community at large are demonstrating a preference for socially responsible businesses.

Still, many companies struggle with effectively communicating their Corporate Social Responsibility message.

If no one knows that your company cares—and has the data to back it up—how can they express their preference for sustainable business? If you don’t know the differences between Restaurant A and B, how can you make the decision to support the more responsible of the two?

You can’t.

And that’s the point: It’s not enough to be doing good if no one knows about it.

You have to inform the public of the good you’re doing, and just as importantly, where you are striving to do better. To maximize the value of your CSR efforts, you have to give stakeholders meaningful information, to share the data and stories about how your business is making a difference, and why it matters.

And you don’t have to have “sustainability” in your job title to realize the benefits of effectively communicating to your stakeholders.

PX_newsletter_01272014_CSR-MaxWith a proper engagement strategy, effective CSR communications can benefit people in a variety of roles, from the obvious (Corporate Communications, Marketing and PR) to the less obvious (Investor Relations, Procurement, and Government/Public Affairs).

Effective CSR communications can help you sell, recruit, retain, engage, influence, and position your company as a leader.

While simple altruism may drive your corporate responsibility efforts, the reality is that if you’re not effectively communicating your message, you’re missing out on an opportunity. To truly maximize the value of your CSR efforts, you have to connect with stakeholders in a meaningful way.

Of course it takes planning, but with the right strategy in place, the benefits can be far greater than expected.


18
Dec 13

Season’s greetings from Parallax!

We hope you’re feeling festive and enjoying the final days of 2013. To help us get into the holiday spirit we decided to do a holiday photo shoot. And what’s a holiday photo shoot without the ever-fashionable, always functional, matching team turtleneck sweaters?

Hopefully by now you’ve received our awesomely bad holiday mailer. If not, it probably means we don’t have your mailing address! If you’d like one (and honestly, who wouldn’t?) send us a message and we’ll make sure to get you one in time for you to wrap an extra special present in it. That’s right. It’s a poster that doubles as holiday wrapping paper.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Parallax!

 


22
Oct 13

Parallax Social Responsibility

We spend a lot of time helping companies tell the story of the good they’re doing.

For our larger clients, activities like corporate philanthropy, investing in employee benefits and safety, and adopting environmentally friendly business practices are often grouped under the category of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

With the help of clients like Sempra Energy, Hunter Industries, and NextEra Energy, we’ve learned a lot about best practices in CSR, and along the way, we’ve become a more socially responsible business ourselves.

We thought it would be fun to document (via photo-essay) the best practices we’ve adopted over the years.  We call it “PSR” – the Parallax Social Responsibility program.

Enjoy! And, feel free to adopt these responsible practices at your place of business!

Parallax PSR Water

Parallax PSR Chalkboard

We use our chalk-wall instead of paper.

Parallax PSR Projector

Parallax PSR Paper

Parallax PSR Guusje

Guusje, our Creative Director, gives back to the community by volunteering as an art teacher at a local school twice a week.

Parallax PSR Bike

When we can, we leave our cars at home, and walk or bike to work.

Allen_Train

Parallax encourages and supports public transportation, and offers reimbursement for employees (like Allen) who take the train to work. Luckily the train station is only a few blocks from our office.

Parallax PSR Clothing Exchange

Parallax hosts a quarterly clothing exchange where 15+ bags of clothes are donated each time to a local woman’s shelter.

Parallax PSR Lighting

We installed energy-efficient lighting in our office to go along with our natural sky-lights.

Parallax PSR Halloween

We try to keep a healthy work-life balance and get together for team outings every other month.

Parallax Giving for 2013


29
May 13

CSR: How does your company increase its social responsibility efforts?

Part 2 of our CSR series

First, it’s important to look at what you’re presently doing. Chances are, your business may already have incorporated responsible practices, such as installing more efficient lights, promoting recycling, or encouraging a healthy lifestyle for employees. You’ll want to document what you are already doing and, if possible, your return on investment so far.

Next, determine what the most important social responsibility issues are to the people you’re connected to; your company may have particular assets that are well suited to address those needs. From there, devise and implement a concrete plan based on your company’s unique priorities: who is responsible for what, what resources and help will they need in order to accomplish goals, and what is the timeframe? The final, and perhaps most integral part of any CSR effort is setting concrete targets and measuring progress against those goals.  This is critical to ensure others within the company. as well as customers and investors, can see strides being made, and will also help ensure that over time, money will be dedicated to these efforts so that they are sustainable.  While CSR programs can usually save money in the long run, they often need up front investments to start.  Measuring a plan’s success against initial concrete goals will reveal how valuable efforts have been, or indicate that the plan should be altered.

Making CSR a priority clearly takes time, effort, and resources, but the return can be significant to the community, the environment and your business. There is more and more evidence that companies that have CSR as a core strategy are outperforming those that do not. A recent cause marketing study by Cone Communications revealed that 85 percent of consumers have a more positive view of companies that support a cause they care about. In addition, a CSR-minded business will become a more attractive employer; people want to work somewhere they’ll feel valued, healthy, and happy. Providing such an environment will help attract talented individuals. Finally, making environmentally conscious changes, like reducing electricity use or removing disposable plates and utensils in an office kitchen will also save money in the long run. Embracing CSR will allow your business to not only survive in the changing times, but also thrive. Doing good isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also leads to doing better as a company.

To learn more about Corporate Social Responsibility, read Part 1 of our series or check out the CSR work we’ve done.

 


29
May 13

Corporate Social Responsibility – Doing good to do well

What is CSR? Part 1 of a series

You may have heard “corporate social responsibility” – or CSR – mentioned lately in the business world, but what does it mean? The definition is still evolving, but typically CSR is understood as a company’s commitment to manage its economic, social and environmental practices responsibly and efficiently. Businesses are facing increased pressure from consumers, investors, employees and other stakeholders to consider the Three P’s—People, Profit, Planet—in their corporate strategies. In other words, how is your company handling issues like human rights, employee health and safety, labor standards, environmental waste, and ethical practices? Creating a successful CSR strategy can provide several benefits to your company including decreased operating costs, improved employee engagement and productivity, enhanced company brand/image, and strengthened customer loyalty.

In particular, many businesses are seeing substantial benefits from focusing on their environmental impact. If you were to look at the websites of the 30 companies on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you’d notice they all have one thing in common: an entire page dedicated to their environmental sustainability efforts. These companies realize that green business practices can save money and ensure the company’s long-term survival, while also improving the health of the environment. Companies are reducing their carbon footprints by reinvesting money in clean energy, using solar, wind, and other renewable sources, and finding other creative ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, businesses are minimizing waste by reducing product packaging, reusing or recycling more waste, reducing pollution, and minimizing health and safety risks.

Sounds like a lot to consider, right? Developing your company’s unique CSR strategy may not be the easiest task, but in order to stay competitive and relevant in today’s business world, it’s a critical piece to consider. Consumers are seeking companies that positively impact their communities, large corporations are demanding suppliers with ethical business practices, and prospective employees are drawn to employers who value and prioritize their well being.

So how does your company take steps to increase social responsibility? Check out part 2 of our CSR series or see the CSR work we’ve done.


14
Feb 13

Non-profit branding, it’s personal.

At first, the words “non-profit” and “branding” don’t seem to fit together, or at least they didn’t used to. A difficult conundrum for nonprofits is the juxtaposition of wanting to create a unique identity, but not wanting to look ‘branded’ – or polished. That fear stems from the idea that “if it looks good, it’s expensive.” Or in the case of a non-profit, “if it looks good, it looks like we don’t need any money.“ Continue reading →


04
Feb 13

How’s your quality of life?

On January 17th, San Diegans mingled along turtle reef at Sea World to celebrate our environment, economy and regional community. With a drink in one hand and the 2013 San Diego Regional Quality of Life dashboard in the other, members of industry, government and community came together to talk about the issues, improvements and room for growth in our region that Equinox Center is working to shed light on. In the last year, there has been a slow but steady improvement in job growth, a slight improvement in housing affordability, and renewable energy and air quality is continuing to move in the right direction. But there is still room for progress when it comes to water quality and transportation.

The Equinox Center shows off their 2013 dashboard.

Continue reading →