Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
By now, Casual Fridays are a standard business practice in many companies. But what if you could take that concept one step further and encourage ecofriendly values by creating Ecofriendly Casual Fridays?
An Ecofriendly Casual Friday would still allow the business casual dress code of a standard Casual Friday. However, employees would be encouraged to wear at least one piece of ecofriendly apparel. Ecofriendly apparel options would include items that are made with organic, sustainable, biodegradable or recycled materials. You might also want to add social consciousness categories to this list such as fair trade, USA made, and union made.
Sounds easy enough. But once you start looking for the ecofriendly (or fair trade) label in many popular clothing retailers, you'll find that items qualifying for one or more of these categories are scarce. What's more is that it is often impossible to determine if an item qualifies while shopping in the store. You would have to do some significant supply chain research to determine many items' qualifications.
With the retail arena scenario as it presently is, you might want to provide a way for employees to share why the item they chose to wear is ecofriendly and where they purchased the item. That way they can assist fellow employees in finding good ecofriendly sources and make it an educational exercise as well.
What would employees gain from this exercise? First, employees would become aware of how non-ecofriendly many of their everyday purchases are. The goal would be to encourage them to vote with their wallets by redirecting spending to those items and retailers that are aligned with these values.
There may be some resistance by employees to participate because they may not share ecofriendly values. So whatever you do, do not turn this into a battleground. Just make it a fun program to participate in. You might even want to start a contest to reward those who wear either the greatest number of ecofriendly clothing items on a given day or those who wear the most ecofriendly items (i.e. 100% organic, post-consumer recycled, etc.). A gift card to an ecofriendly clothing retailer would be an appropriate prize.
To jumpstart the program, why not consider imprinting some ecofriendly promotional T-shirts with your company name to distribute to your staff? That way those who may not be very interested in expending effort or money to find their own ecofriendly clothing can at least participate by wearing the company-provided T-shirt.
If your business is already in the ecofriendly arena or instituting green initiatives, establishing an Ecofriendly Casual Friday would be a way to help bolster these values in your company and, through your employees, to the community at large.