Why You Should Care About Sustainability


Climate change.  We hear about this topic almost daily.  China’s smog, oil spills, and melting ice caps gain most of the headlines.  But how does society change from the ground up?  What does it mean to business?  These issues are irrefutably tied.

Enter the Sustainability movement.  People + Planet + Profit best defines the full Sustainability picture.  It is not simply about “green” – but lasting solutions for the good of all concerned, so we can all, well, last.  A lasting planet, lasting people, and businesses that last too.

Recycle_PhotoBefore we speak to the meaning for business, we must understand the role of government.  Until now, the movement has been a loose cadre of industry rules, regulations, and marketing.  It is here that the Federal Government has an opportunity to lead.  As the single largest buyer of goods and services, Uncle Sam’s purchasing rules will act as a trigger – leading private industry, not by outward regulation and Congress, but in partnership with business and academia.  This is a unique opportunity for the purchasing power of the Federal Government to establish rules for itself, not directly affecting purchasing rules outside of government, that will at the same time be so dominate and impactful as to drive compliance and adoption by the business world.  When achieved (sooner than you think), the rating system and framework will drive consistency, comparability, and transparency.

This is despite the fact that the private sector is generally ahead in this area, but disparate, fractured, and not fully mainstream.  As such, maintaining this course is not an effective path.  Only government has this tremendous leadership opportunity.

Societal evolution demands attention to this paradigm shift and will compel transparency in corporate America.  As evidenced by the open use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, younger citizens and future leaders have little expectation of privacy.  They instead prefer to participate in outcomes, and have begun to demand transparency in the business and government worlds.  Now they compel actual change.

Think about Apple in China, Pink Slime, Paula Deen, and Kony 2012.

This all represents business opportunity in the early adoption of this transparency in the way the broader sense of sustainability offers.  And those that don’t simply will not be trusted as business partners.

In other words, now is the time to build your organization in this light, and make it part of the organization’s fabric and brand.  It will eventually be expected – the ultimate pay me now or pay me later, with any opportunity to stand out as a brand leader lost without early movement.

Shedding the limits of the “green” premise, organizations should transform their own governance and business models.  They should do so with both step-level change and dynamic change to better align now, at this important stage, with sustainability as “Corporate Sustainability.”  They should do so in the practice of supporting their employees, customers, and the employees of vendor partners, our planet, and their profits by the cost savings and market acceptance sustainability authenticity will bring.  This new scorecard will eventually reward those that truly live it as an entity, and leave behind those that don’t – just as other monumental paradigm shifts have.

If your organization is one of the thousands supplying government, the future is much clearer and urgent.  The time for Sustainability is now – or risk business within that important segment.

For those leading this important shift in the business landscape, this means embracing the kind of existence implied by these new standards, making it a reflection of their identity and brand, not a point of compliance alone.  It must come from the head, the heart, and the wallet.

Learn more about Busniness & Sustainability at http://peopleandplanetandprofit.com.

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