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Sunday, 30 September 2012 14:23

Conference to highlight corporate social responsibility best practices

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GRAND RAPIDS — Sustainable businesses are by their nature engaged in many facets of corporate social responsibility.

In West Michigan, that’s evident as companies continue to champion the triple bottom line approach to business and as the region’s leaders remain committed to the community through philanthropic contributions.

Taking this message a step further, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, in partnership with Cascade Engineering and Amway, is hosting an event, “West Michigan Corporate Social Responsibility Conference: Creating Shared Value,” at the Amway World Headquarters Auditorium in Ada on Oct. 8. Registration is $50 and includes lunch and closing reception.

The daylong conference is expected to cover a number of social impact practices and strategies across a spectrum of business sizes and sectors.

“This conference is a great opportunity,” said Jeff Terry, director of corporate citizenship at Amway. “We have a lot of companies here — small, medium and large, many of them doing a lot of work to improve the environment and the community.”

For companies looking at ways to engage in more strategic and effective corporate social responsibility investments, the conference is set up to provide both introductory and more in-depth breakout sessions.

“There are a lot of CSR conferences that take place around the county,” Terry said. “Here we can get companies to come together and have dialogue specific to what is relevant to West Michigan and Michigan.”

By trading best practices and networking on the topic, Terry said he hopes people will find ways to collaborate on new initiatives.

“There is tons of synergy and interest around this focus,” said Dirck Lyon, director of new initiatives at Cascade Engineering. “This whole conference is about two things: educating people in CSR as to what programs are really effective out there — not from a greenwashing standpoint, but real impact. The other is from a networking standpoint, finding out what are you doing to measure impact and how are you making sure the money you invest is going to a project that has an impact.”

Companies are beginning to recognize that a focus on sustainability and social responsibly go hand-in-hand with being a good financial stewards of the company, he said.

Both Terry and Lyon hit on the ability of the region’s companies to leverage their expertise to continue advancing CSR engagement and act as a leader in program development.

Lyon said companies realize they must do more than just write checks to support their communities, and they also are starting to see that efforts to establish CSR relationships and programs helps with long-term viability. By helping other organizations expand and do more work in the community, it helps everyone in the community, he added.

The event features keynote speaker Neil Hawkins, vice president of sustainability and environment health and safety at Dow Chemical Co., and includes three breakout sessions on participating and responsibility, local impact and social impact.

Additional sponsors include Brewery Vivant; Fifth Third Bank; Lambert, Edwards & Associates; MiBiz; The Right Place Inc.; and MMTC-West.

Read 2339 times Last modified on Monday, 22 October 2012 13:08
Elijah Brumback

Staff Writer

ebrumback@mibiz.com

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