Cutting Your Company's Carbon Footprint One Employee at a Time

Hybrid car purchase incentives and tele-commuting policies aren't the only opportunities for HR to go green.

Published: 01-Jan-2009

If one of Amy Rao's employees fancies a gas-saving hybrid car, he or she can subtract $10,000 from the price tag. That's because the founder and CEO of Integrated Archive Systems Inc., a Palo Alto, California, data management solutions specialist, grants each of her 63 employees that much toward the purchase of any hybrid. Rao, 45, is a committed environmentalist but considers the program as much human resources policy as environmental initiative. "The hybrid car program is such an incredible gift to an employee that it really does build allegiance to the company," says Rao.

HR has plenty to contribute to the greening of a company. A recent report from independent researchers Kate Lister and Tom Harnish suggests that if U.S. employers allowed all employees who are able to work from home to do so, it would cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 107 million tons and reduce foreign oil dependence by 80 percent. Greening a company also helps HR, says Jeana Wirtenberg, a director of the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "First of all, you'll recruit and retain better. Second, you'll have people who are more engaged and productive."

Hybrid purchase incentives and tele-commuting policies aren't the only opportunities for HR to go green. Rao gives free reusable grocery bags to clients or employees and provides free in-office lunches every day so no one has to drive to eat. Wirtenberg says other companies sponsor gas-saving carpools and even give free bicycles to employees interested in pedaling to work.

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