BLOG / NEWSLETTER:
More than a coincidental number of people have asked me in the past couple of weeks as to what I am seeing as trends in the sustainability arena, a top 5 trends of 2012, so to speak. So, here is what I’m seeing this year.
1) Companies are overwhelmed.
The era of supplier anonymity and vague responsibility is over. Whether it is conflict minerals, animal welfare, human rights, child labor, human trafficking, working conditions, unemployment, or political undesirability (Arab Spring and Occupy Movements) – people are watching, talking, no longer accepting business as usual, and taking action.
Bold, aspirational goals have recently been the status quo for corporations getting into sustainability (100 percent renewable energy; zero waste; 100 percent recycled content sourcing). Many corporations are questioning whether a) they can actually meet these targets, and b) if they don’t, will they be attacked for not fulfilling them. The word from sustainability experts and several NGO roundtables I’ve attended this past year is that an honest, intentional approach with ongoing communication is far more important than the actual goal itself. However, if a company makes a bold aspirational goal and makes no substantial effort to move toward that goal and/or communicate those efforts, they will open themselves up for attack.
It’s complicated out there (see #1-4). What if you and that NGO that has been attacking you all these years shifted gears and you both started to see each other as allies rather than opponents? Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund have managed it. They’ve had to find new ways to communicate, new ways to work with the other, and as a result, have become mutually stronger and more effective in their missions, activities, and business. Check out Peter Senge’s Necessary Revolution for an outstanding review of what these two companies learned and how we can all benefit. More and more NGOs are looking to help and be a resource for businesses. What if an NGO was so intimately involved in your sustainability strategy, that they had your back and would be willing to speak on your behalf?