Businesses around the country have given new meaning to corporate social responsibility (CSR), and have even surprised many environmentalists, as companies from Wal-Mart to Coca-Cola have kicked into high gear to help save the planet and improve their competitive edge. Many of these larger corporations are partnering with major non-profits such as the Environmental Defense Fund or World Wildlife Fund to help each other achieve their goals.
For smaller companies, however, these for-profit and non-profit partnerships often take the form of business challenges where an organization creates a competition between local businesses. These competitions have been popping up in communities the country from Arlington to Chicago. The success of these initial challenges has led to repeat challenges and inspired other communities around the country to challenge their businesses.
Charlottesville's Better Business Challenge
officially launched on June 21, 2011 and already had 22 participating businesses as of July 8.
"While there is a core group of businesses already practicing sustainability, there is a lot of opportunity," pointed out Teri Kent, whose non-profit Better World Betty teamed up with LEAP to create the challenge. The leaders at LEAP and Better World Betty are effectively using their grant, staff and student volunteers to create partnerships with the business community and offer useful resources for participants.
The challenge seeks to involve customers by encouraging them to suggest their favorite businesses
to join the growing list of participants. With a goal of 100 businesses, the challenge will award points for those that set goals and take steps to meet them. All participants above certain levels will achieve awards
including one of three potential certifications: Certified (40 points), Certified Plus (100 points), and Winner's Circle (150 points). The competition will run until May 15, 2012, and the organizers hope to repeat the challenge in the future.