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Companies serious about social responsibility

Rochester Business Journal
April 29, 2016

Corporate social responsibility at Constellation Brands Inc. is more than just doing the right thing. It is a commitment to the land, people and communities where the firm’s employees live and work, the company’s leaders say.

That means the alcohol beverage provider is committed to caring for the environment, inspiring community involvement and promoting responsible consumption of its product. The program is led by Eric Thomas, Constellation Brand’s manager for corporate social responsibility.

The Victor-based business is one of many RBJ 75 firms that recognize corporate social responsibility, a corporation’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for its effects on the environmental and social well-being.

In other words, it is a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society.

Corporate social responsibility is also known as corporate citizenship and can involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company but instead promote positive social and environmental change.

At Constellation Brands, employees are able to participate in three areas of corporate social responsibility: giving back, sustainability and social responsibility.

In the giving-back arena, for example, nearly 750 employees took paid time off to volunteer at local food banks during last year’s Nourishing Neighbors Week of Giving Back.

They also collected more than 100,000 pounds of food through collection bins placed at Constellation Brands facilities.

In addition, employees have raised money for causes, including cancer research and fighting childhood hunger.

Constellation Brands also takes steps to be environmentally responsible and to promote responsible drinking. The company is involved in a number of programs that support each initiative, says Alicia Nestle, corporate communications manager.

While a commitment to corporate social responsibility starts at the top with Robert Sands, Constellation Brands president and CEO, it involves many others at the firm, Nestle said. The firm has a steering committee as well as subcommittees that focus on the three pillars: giving back, social responsibility and sustainability.

Corporate social responsibility also starts at the top at LeChase Construction Services LLC.

“At LeChase, social responsibility is built on an unwavering commitment to integrity and ethical behavior,” said William Goodrich, CEO and managing partner.

The business focuses on three areas. They include exhibiting a “Do the Right Thing” attitude and giving back to the community.

LeChase contributes more than 5 percent of its profits annually to charitable organizations, Goodrich said. Organizations are chosen based on their positive impact on society.

The business also committed to building sustainable projects through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, which aims to improve construction performance in areas including energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development and water savings.

LeChase has more than 50 LEED-accredited professionals and more than 80 projects that are LEED-certified or awaiting certification.

Wegmans Foods Markets Inc. also believes in doing the right thing, said spokeswoman Valerie Fox, noting the grocer leads with its values of caring, high standards, making a difference, respect and empowerment.

Corporate social responsibility touches many aspects of Wegmans’ business, from community giving and sustainability initiatives to food safety, human safety and diversity, she said.

“Every action we take is made with our customers in mind, and we are committed to helping people live healthier, better lives through food,” Fox said.

Xerox Corp. also has several policies, principles and programs in place that govern all areas of corporate social responsibility, spokeswoman Elissa Nesbitt said.

The company’s diversity can be traced to its first CEO, Joseph Wilson, who took steps to create a more diverse workforce in the 1960s.

In 2015, Xerox created and implemented the Wilson Rule, requiring that women and minorities be among the final pool of qualified candidates for every open management position in this country. Outside the United States, women will be among the final pool of qualified candidates.

At the same time, the company deployed a new diversity and inclusion training program for all Xerox managers.

In addition, Xerox strengthened its commitment to corporate social responsibility and its governance last year by creating a Corporate Social Responsibility Steering Committee and Council responsible for setting corporate priorities and goals, defining strategy and identifying key performance indicators for its business.

Another example of corporate social responsibility at Xerox is the Xerox Community Involvement Program.

The longest-running employee program at Xerox, it marries the volunteer spirit of employees with corporate funding to participate in the betterment of the communities where staff live and work.

Nationally, Xerox invests $1.3 million in the program, and roughly 12,000 Xerox people participated in more than 800 projects, Nesbitt said.

In 2015, the Rochester chapter funded 22 projects and supported Xerox employees involved in projects at Flower City Outreach and its work camp, Verona Street Animal Society, Literacy Volunteers of Rochester and Camp Good Days and Special Times.

4/29/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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