Modern companies build their business models according to their responsibilities towards the community and environment. This policy is referred to as corporate social responsibility, and it is closely connected with company’s risk management, cost savings, human resource management, customer relationships, and innovation capacity (European Commission n.p.). French company Manitou Group is committed to taking responsibility for its impact on society. Through its CSR initiative REDUCE, it provides customers with information on the fuel consumption of Manitou’s products, both in terms of litres of fuel consumed per hour and greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions per hour (Manitou Group n.p.). For its successful initiative supporting users in reducing their environmental impact, Manitou Group has been awarded “Inel d’Or 2014” and ranked n° 1 in the Gaïa-Index for the industrial sector (“Manitou Group rewarded” n.p.). To achieve this success, Manitou’s representatives have applied a rigorous methodology and complex calculations.
Manitou Group designs, manufactures and distributes material handling solutions for the construction, industrial and agricultural sectors (“Company Overview” n.p.). As this company manufactures various industrial forklift-trucks, aerial work-platforms, compact loaders, warehousing equipment, its products certainly influence the air pollution. Thus, the company decided to create a CSR initiative that would provide customers “with reliable, clear and transparent information on the real consumption data” for the machines, and to accompany the clients in the reduction of their total carrying cost and their environmental footprint (Manitou Group n.p.). Today, CSR is an integral part of the company’s development strategy and represents its strife for transparency and ecological responsibility.
REDUCE initiative is based on five main principles: measure, validate, inform, assist, and improve. The first principle consists in development of an internal protocol for measuring products’ CO2 emissions and fuel consumption (“One Program”n.p.). To validate the received information, an outside service provider, the “Union Technique de l’Automobile du motocycle et du Cycle” (UTAC) was involved. The next stage presupposes the informing of the clients and stakeholders about Manitou’s machines. Furthermore, the company is committed to assisting its clients in reduction of the fuel consumption, which is achieved by presentation of consumption metrics (Manitou Group n.p.). Finally, Manitou improves machines’ design through downsizing, increased recyclability, and eco-mode (“Manitou Reduce” n.p.). These measures lead not only to the reduction of total cost of ownership, but also to the reduced environmental footprint.
Manitou CSR initiative REDUCE is aimed at raising awareness about the cost burden and savings with reliable data about fuel consumption (“One Program” 9). Although there are no standards for fuel consumption reporting in the materials handling industry, many years of experience in consumption tests and observation on the ground on Manitou products have helped to measure the cost of regular maintenance and create environmentally friendly products with eco-design (“One Program” 10). Interestingly, Manitou was the first company “to reveal the consumption of its machines together with its metrics methodology” (“One Program” 15). As a result, one can assume that this company improved both the energy efficiency of its machines and community’s attitude towards its products.
One cannot deny the fact that CSR creates value for Manitou. From a strategic point of view, CSR program helps to illustrate that the company is responsible toward the resources it attracts and uses. Furthermore, as any CSR program, REDUCE is inseparable from risk management and cost reduction. For instance, the reputation gaining through CSR initiative rules out the possibility of corruption scandals or environmental accidents that can ruin company’s perception. The reduced cost of maintenance induces clients to buy Manitou’s products more, which results in increased benefits. Moreover, as it was mentioned above, the transparency of the company plays huge role in its popularity among customers because informative tools and increased awareness attract attention of clients and ensure their instill trust. Undoubtedly, successful implementation of CSR initiative also raises stakeholders’ expectations as well as competitive ability.
Manitou’s CSR initiative is not the only one on the market today. The Fifth Toyota Environmental Action Plan (n.p.) introduced in 2011, aims at achieving a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions, reducing the amount of resources used in construction of its products, and minimizing environmental risks connected with chemicals (“Environmental Management” n.p.). Moreover, Toyota actively discloses information about fuel consumption and emission, and promotes environmental awareness. Taking into account the popularity of this company and its global distribution, one should not be surprised that Toyota’s CSR initiative is more elaborated and detailed than that of Manitou.
Crown Holdings, Inc. is another company committed to continuous improvement in terms of CSR initiatives (“Corporate Sustainability Policy” n.p.). As a global leader in the metal packaging industry, Crown pays much attention to recycling waste, continuous evaluation and minimization of environmental impact, and promotion of pollution prevention through maintenance and operational improvements (“Ecologic” 6). Compared to Manitou, Crown reduces fuel consumption and emissions through transportation-related incentives.
Caterpillar Inc. is also committed to sustainability initiatives by focusing on providing products that are more fuel-efficient and require less fluids and oil to operate (Caterpillar Inc., 5). The reduction of harmful emissions is of primary importance to this company, as well as for Manitou. John Deere, agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery manufacturer targets at reduction of energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (“Demonstrating Commitment” 3). Hyster-yale’s environmental and corporate policy is similar to Manitou CSR initiative. The company’s main objective is to design trucks with greater fuel efficiency, reduced oil dependency, and lower operational cost (“Operating in the Green” 7). Thus, one can see that Manitou is not the only corporation focusing on the environmental issues.
As it was stated above, the REDUCE initiative has many benefits, but it has some weaknesses as well. First, despite the fact that Manitou promotes its products as eco-friendly, there is no standard testing to compare products (“Manitou Reduce” n.p.). Thus, it is unclear which machines can be considered harmless to ecology. Second, information promoted by the company can be easily accessible to competitions, and this can consequently reduce overall profit. Third, although Manitou CSR initiative is transparent and inspiring, the government still has not launched any initiatives supporting corporations in their desire to be more fuel efficient and technologically advanced (“Regulations and Standards” n.p.). Unfortunately, companies as Manitou will meet costly consequences if regulations are not followed.
The arguments presented above suggest that Manitou’s CSR initiative has overall positive impact on the company’s perception by clients, employees, and stakeholders. Manitou targets at reduction of the fuel consumption, total carrying cost, and carbon emissions, and this policy is believed to establish closer relationships with customers and ensure positive economic prospects. Toyota, Crown, Caterpillar, John Deere, Hyser-Yale, and many other modern companies are also committed to ecologically friendly production by continuously measuring and reducing fuel consumption. Such popularity of CSR programs proves the fact that today’s corporations are concerned not only with revenues, but also with environmental impact and ecology. Unfortunately, government has not presented any incentives to support such companies as Manitou in their strife for transparency and environmental-based policies.