eBay Corporate Social Responsibility project- Part A

As part of our course “Strategic Corporate Responsibility,” students are invited to conduct a CSR (corporate social responsibility) consulting project and tackle some of the most burning challenges in multi-billion dollar companies. The projects vary from establishing implementation plans all the way to full blown CSR strategy for companies.

Our team was fortunate to get the eBay project. Most of us had some interaction with eBay as part of our internet experience, but we never thought about eBay as a green company. Here is where our team comes into play!

With the help of the eBay Green Team (www.ebay.com/greenteam), we hit the ground running. Our main goal was to explore greener shipping and packaging options for the company. In the beginning we conducted a comprehensive industry due-diligence process, analyzed eBay’s core competencies and came up with CSR opportunities for the company. In our second stage of the project, we explored each one of the opportunities we discovered. Besides the obvious packaging and shipping opportunities, we also investigated some internal opportunities within eBay. In the short-run we evaluated opportunities like expansion of brand awareness and enhancing online communication, while in the medium-run we examined initiatives such as encouraging the eBay community to “buy local” to save shipping mileage, offering carbon offsets in the eBay marketplace and developing a green rating program for eBay sellers. Finally we also looked at eBay in the long run and advised that they implement a reusable packaging program and green certification program for sellers.

In the next stage of the project we are going to prioritize all the initiatives we came up with on the basis of impact, costs and implementation time and build an extensive execution plan. As taught by our Prof. Kellie McElhaney, who was our mentor through the entire project, we will make sure that the initiatives we come up with are well aligned with eBay’s overall strategy.

So far the project is amazing! We discovered that without even trying, eBay is a green giant because it promotes reuse of products. Just look at this great article from Marc Gunther’s website: (http://www.marcgunther.com/2010/02/15/why-ebay-is-a-green-giant). Moreover, we were intrigued by the uniqueness of our challenge; unlike every other company, eBay has to set policies not only for its employees but also for its sellers and carriers.

In part B of this blog my teammate, Katie Hoisington, will elaborate on the initiative we chose and what “Monday Morning” steps we developed for eBay.

—Shauli Raz

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