You’ve probably noticed the trend today for corporations to add statements to their messaging about being “green.” The good news is that truly sustainable behaviour is good for business, and that many corporate and community leaders now make substantial efforts to do the right thing(s).
The bad news is not the (relatively few) corporations that systematically and cynically ignore the environmental and social consequences of their actions (they are fairly easy to spot and their days will soon be over anyway) .
No, the really troublesome trend is that so many corporations are investing huge sums to “green” their corporate image or to promote self-serving high-visibility projects rather than investing in real, substantial change. Such shortcuts may appear rewarding but they are ultimately bad for business.
Faking it simply doesn’t work, particularly in this new age of transparency. Your employees know, your customers know and your shareholders know what you’re really up to, and any lasting business relationship is based on real performance, mutual trust and honest communication. So, unless you’re focusing entirely on a fast and dirty exit, your very existence depends on loyal customers, employees and other stakeholders who share your visions and strategies.
Greenwashing – the act of creating dishonest spin about corporate environmental practices – isn’t doing you any favors.
Also, honest investments in sustainable ideas and practices are bound to attract the most productive talent, reveal manageable threats earlier and create new business opportunities before your competitors get there. And ultimately, in the words of The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, "business cannot succeed in societies that fail.” Amen. So why doesn’t everybody do the right thing?
The really troublesome trend is that so many corporations are investing huge sums to “green” their corporate image or to promote self-serving high-visibility projects rather than investing in real, substantial change.
Investing in change
The easy answer is, of course, that shareholders expect a reasonable return on their investment, and that CEOs need to present convincing financial reports. Make that, quarterly reports, because with the accelerating technical and social evolution, the financial horizons are becoming increasingly – and dangerously – close.
Whether your main concern is about environmental, social or economic sustainability, your objectives and strategies must be aligned with your financial planning and reporting, and success and failure must be measured over longer periods of time than the next quarterly report
In other words, it’s not about Money, it’s about Long-term Perspectives.
Now, nobody can be expected to achieve all that overnight. Furthermore, different industries face different challenges and there are even alternative ways of defining the challenges as well as the solutions. But, let’s be honest about it, we could all try harder. How far have you really come in integrating your sustainability and business strategies? How deeply are your employees really involved in your green brand development?
We’re UP for Good, which means that we are not interested in quick fixes. We know that you won’t achieve anything by greenwashing grayish realities, hiding your long-term challenges for your immediate stakeholders or exaggerating half-hearted CSR efforts in the media. The real winners look way beyond the next press release or, indeed, the next quarterly report.