Wiser Solutions - helping businesses make a difference

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a values-driven approach to business?

Values-driven business is more than having a mission statement.  This approach to business considers the financial, social, environmental and even spiritual impacts of all business decisions.  In this context, values mean principles of conduct for helping people and healing the planet by extending concern beyond the business and your immediate self-interest.

A values-driven or values-based approach to business is increasingly being demanded by the fast growing consumer market who wants ‘their dollars to make a difference.'   Values-based consumers are supporting businesses that operate in line with their own values. This holistic approach is driving business innovation and wealth creation.

Values-driven business is a term that often has wider implications than the term ‘green' business or ‘socially responsible' business, which are often seen as holding only environmental or social values.   The values connected to supporting the Local Living Economy include: a healthy environment, strong communities, meaningful employment, buying local first and prioritizing fair trade.

What does LOHAS stand for?

LOHAS is an acronym that stands for Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability. LOHAS refers to a wide range industries, business practices, and products and services that are designed to be environmentally conscious, sustainable, socially responsible and /or healthier for people and the planet.  The LOHAS consumer segment is the fastest growing segment of the conscious consumer market.

Who are conscious consumers?

Conscious consumers are the leading-edge portion of the population that makes their purchasing decisions based on their belief system and values.  This fast growing market segment is influencing the shift to a more conscious way of doing business.

Some of the traits of this market group is that they are early adopters, influential over friends and family, less price sensitive and more brand loyal.  Their social structure and internalized values make them both influential in the market as well as an attractive consumer target.

What do you mean by the triple bottom line approach of people, planet and profits?

A company committed to a triple bottom line approach means that its activities focus more broadly than on the traditional bottom line of maximizing profits. A triple bottom line company manages stakeholder interests - including the environment.

Triple bottom line accounting expands the traditional reporting framework to take into account environmental and social performance in addition to financial performance.  There are many new indicators for measuring a businesses performance with regards to people and the planet.

The term, "people, planet and profit" is used to describe the triple bottom lines and the goal of sustainability.

People or human capital refers to fair and beneficial business practices toward labor, community and the region in which the enterprise conducts its business.  In a triple bottom line (TBL) company, the well being of the business, labor and other stakeholder interests are interdependent.  These businesses often engage in fair trade practices.

Planet or natural capital refers to sustainable environmental practices.  A TBL company attempts to do no harm to the environment reducing its ecological footprint through resource management, energy reduction, smart closed loop design and other measures.  Some engage in environmental restoration practices.

Profit is the bottom line shared by all commerce.  Profit is not seen as separate from social and environmental impacts because the spirit of this approach is about benefiting all stakeholders. This includes a fair distribution of financial capital to support the communities and heal the environment where the businesses operate.  WiserSolutions believes that generating profits is an essential element of the triple bottom line.  For companies to truly make a difference and have the social impacts that are integral to this approach, they need to generate enough profit to grow and be financially sustainable.

Many business opportunities are developing in the realm of social entrepreneurialism and businesses hoping to reach this expanding market, must design themselves to be financially profitable, socially beneficial and ecologically sustainable or fail to compete with those companies who do.

WiserSolutions supports entrepreneurship that uses this approach. We believe that it is the only sustainable business model in a changing world.

What is Green Washing?

Green washing occurs when companies do whatever it takes to appear green but in truth, they are not.  Even though they may be engaged in some positive environmental or social practices, the image they portray does not always tell the whole story.  Companies may use words such as ‘natural' or ‘organic' to describe their products. They can do this because there is a lack of stringent government standards and regulations.  Green Washing intentionally misleads potential customers.

Green washing occurs when companies do whatever it takes to appear green but in truth, they are not.  Even though they may be engaged in some positive environmental or social practices, the image they portray does not always tell the whole story.  Companies may use words such as ‘natural' or ‘organic' to describe their products. They can do this because there is a lack of stringent government standards and regulations.  Green Washing intentionally misleads potential customers.

What is 3rd Party Certification?

Third-party certification is a scientific process by which a product, process or service is reviewed by a reputable and unbiased third party to verify that a set of criteria, claims or standards are being met.  A third-party certification claim is an important factor to consider when purchasing a wide range of products (from food to appliances to cleaning products).

Certifying organizations are anxious to maintain their reputation and sustain their integrity and provide an excellent way to validate green / socially responsible marketing claims while protecting consumers from myths, misconceptions, misleading information and "fly by night" manufacturers.

What is Fair trade?

Fair trade is an organized social movement. As a market-based approach, fair trade empowers developing country producers and promotes sustainability.  Fair trade supports fair prices for producers as well as social and environmental standards for production. Its primary focus is exports from developing countries to developed countries.

The fair trade movement deliberately works with marginalized producers and workers to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency.  Consumers support for Fair trade is one of the fastest growing consumer trends in North America having surpassed organics in 2007.

The criteria to be recognized as a participant in Fair Trade include:

  • Pay a fair wage in the local context
  • Provide equal opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged
  • Engage in environmentally sustainable practices
  • Build long-term relationships
  • Provide healthy and safe working conditions
  • Provide financial and technical assistance to workers whenever possible
  • Be open to public accountability
  • Offer employees opportunities for advancement

What do you mean by Best Business Practices?

When we talk about best business practices we mean the most efficient and effective way of accomplishing a task and running a business.

For many ‘green' entrepreneurs traditional business has very negative connotations. They tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater, meaning they are only able to successfully accomplish only two of the three bottom lines - people and planet.  Profits some how get left out of the equation because they refuse to implement systems and structures that would make their businesses more efficient and that would better serve their customers.

There are proven ways of doing ‘business' that successful organizations have developed with ‘best results'.  These may include financial management systems, inventory control systems and software systems. WiserSolutions knows from experience that these practices and systems bring profits back.

What are the risks of not engaging in ‘green' and ‘socially responsible' business?

In a global market where climate change, energy crises, environmental and social problems pose threats to the economy, the planet and to people, the repercussions for business are enormous.  Pressures from consumers, scientists, not-for-profit organizations and media coverage has created a perfect storm of risks for business.  To help mitigate the negative impacts on business, there is an upsurge of new and impending government regulations.

There has been an erosion of trust among consumers towards the business world and it has resulted in a demand for risk transparency.  People want to know the impacts that a product or process has on their environment, the lives and health of the workers and their own health.  Consumers increasingly ask probing questions, have access to more information and are voting with their dollars for socially responsible businesses.  In 2006 according to the Sustainable Brand Study, 70-80% of consumers say they are switching to "green" companies and 20% actually did in 2006.  Ignoring the trends of consumer choice toward green companies will create greater risks for companies.

There has been a tremendous growth in the number of innovative, green businesses.  Third party certification agencies are scrutinizing products and labor practices.  Fair trade and organically produced products have shown a tremendous rate of growth.  All this adds up to great risks for companies that are not shifting to this changing marketplace.  Hand in hand with risks are a multitude of opportunities.  This conscious consumer market is growing exponentially and they are looking for companies and brands that fit their social and environmental values.  WiserSolutions help businesses to mitigate these risks and capitalize on the opportunities and we do it with integrity, meaning and to make a difference.

 


The idea now is to make the whole process of what you do, the thing that does good in the world.

Greg Steltonpohl
Adina World Beat Beverages