It was only a few years ago that ‘going green’ was seen as a rather twee idea that being environmentally friendly would somehow save the planet. Most big businesses didn’t see the link between being ‘green’ with economic growth and the maximisation of profitability. However, today being ‘green’ is about demonstrating corporate social responsibility and being part of the ‘solution’ rather than the ‘problem’.
The security industry is one of the business sectors that is now having to face up to the green agenda and is in the process of critically examining the implications. It’s fair to say that some security firms woke up to the green movement a long time ago whilst others still lag far behind. A lot of the decisions about whether to ‘go green’ are formulated in the boardroom or by an influential CEO: commitment from the top is still one of the most critical factors that will determine an organisations stance on green issues.
Some security firms are predictably raising the question of whether ‘going green’ might somehow compromise their fundamental operations or increase security risk. In other words there is a fear that by changing processes or tools it could risk the integrity of secure systems.
In my opinion, it would be wrong to stand aloof and believe that green issues are less important than our business model. As an industry we must move with the times whilst still maintaining the trust of our clients. In many cases it is our clients that want greener security suppliers with a firm CSR strategy; and if that forces us to make changes we should not only provide those changes but embrace them.
So what exactly does ‘going green’ actually mean? Why it is important to make sure that corporate social responsibility in the widest sense is central to business strategy? What can businesses do to improve their own green credentials? It is useful to look at some of the key elements of the green movement as a whole but by way of example, here are some of the concepts we have looked at.
Firstly companies could become carbon neutral by taking actions like using fully operational fleet of LPG vehicles. Secondly planting trees could be a part of wider commitment to carbon offsetting and making donations to biodiversity and alternative energy projects. Companies can also encourage staff car sharing schemes and wherever possible the use of public transport. Apart from that, they can play an active part within the local community by sponsoring the local cricket and football teams. For example, at Magenta apart from the above, we have worked with the Metropolitan Police on an educational project, educating a group of 250 local school children on safety issues. In the future, we have plans to take full advantage of solar technology to reduce our energy costs.
Security companies, however, should be mindful about recycling papers. As security specialists we are well aware that even the simple task of recycling has inherent security risks. There have been many news stories about banks throwing out client statements and sensitive information. The simple solution is to use a specialist firms offering a secure recycling service, where you can actually see sensitive materials destroyed on-site.
Finally, we have sought employee feedback and suggestions, resulting in simple process changes to achieve a paperless office: using both sides of paper, invoicing clients online and asking the bank for online statements.
My advice to any organisations which are serious about becoming greener is to try, wherever possible, to use alternative and renewable energy suppliers and change lights to low voltage. On the operational side make sure CCTV systems, barrier controls and alarms systems all use the latest low energy technologies. Make sure that staff switch off monitors and computers when they are not in use (as the standby mode on most appliances still uses 90% power) and to undertake as many carbon offsetting activities as possible.
Critics of green policies often make the claim that going green is bad for business in the commercial sense because green solutions cost more money. To an extent this is true but is an argument that, in global and temporal terms, is very short sighted. More efficient use of paper, electricity and fuel should all lead to lower expenditure but needs to be weighed up against the elements that will be more expensive for reasons that include resource availability, increased research and development costs. Careful balancing however should still see an overall saving particularly if there is a top down strategic approach to CSR rather than a haphazard approach.
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