The ongoing struggle to be a good company

As you probably know, I run my own company (aside: I’m never sure if that statement implies that I’m the sole owner of a company, which I’m not – I’m a partner in a corporation, which sounds large and impersonal, which it’s not – but hopefully all those to whom it matters know that I recognize their part in the running of this). I have an ongoing internal (sometimes personally internal, sometimes corporately internal) battle about how best to espouse my political and social beliefs with this company. This generally manifests itself as guilt for not having done something more, with the excuse that “I’m too busy” to think about anything other than getting my work done on time & on budget (which this very blog would seem to refute). And the possibilities range from small to huge. Things I wonder if I could be doing with this company include:

  • Encouraging/forcing us to use recycled paper, or other eco-friendly paper (we currently don’t have a policy on this – the counter-argument is that paper quality is important and recycled paper isn’t good enough, and I don’t know enough about paper to refute that).
  • Energy Use policy – we all leave our computers on all the time, when we could probably at least make them go to sleep or go to standby mode. The problem with doing so is that I’m often wanting access to my computer from home, so it needs to be on. We turn all our lights off (I often don’t turn mine on), but I wonder if there’s anything more I could be doing
  • Garbage/recycling. Our building does not have recycling, and while I keep meaning to, I’ve yet to ask our landlord to get it, or to supply recycling bins, or better yet, shredding & recycling services for both paper & plastics. Our trash out back is always full of paper & pop bottles
  • Triple Bottom Line accounting. Now, I’m not even sure that I’m sold on this myself, but I would like us as a corporation to “give back” more than we do. And in order to do this, it needs to be made into policy and process, or it will not happen. This is the most ephemeral goal, and in many ways, the one that troubles me the most. I think what I’d love is to talk to other similarly-sized companies to see what they do. I wonder if there are local forums for this?
  • Good employee policies. We offer benefits, and I try to make sure no one’s working overtime unless absolutely necessary, but I feel like I could do more to make this a better place to work. What it is, I’m not sure. I suspect in part it would be to not have me as a manager (I’ll freely admit that I don’t feel I’m a good manager), but we can’t yet afford to have a General Manager, or something similar to replace myself or Jeff in the day-to-day management of employees.

If any of you out there have any great ideas that I could implement, or places I could to to talk to others who want to do more, or books to read on this, please, let me know.