We live in a world where the climate and business rules are changing
faster than ever before. The first rule of business is to remain
“profitable”, but what does that really mean in today’s global environment?
Profitable for shareholders or for society in general? Profitable for the
current quarter or two or for the next ten, twenty or fifty years?
Companies today are being sued for practices that took place years ago. Lead paint
manufacturers have been held responsible for millions of dollars
in cleanup and mitigation costs. A federal jury recently
recommended half a billion dollars in payment and penalties by
cold war military contractors who built and tested nuclear bombs
over 50 years ago.
As Dan Anderson writes in his 2005 book Corporate Survival: The Critical
Importance of Sustainability Risk Management, “The basic
objectives of risk management are to protect the assets of the
corporation and to preserve corporate earnings (profits). I
would suggest that the ultimate objectives of risk management
are to protect ecosystems as capital assets, to preserve their
continuing services; and to maintain fair and equitable social
Competitive companies and public entities are demonstrating that
there are advantages and benefits to embracing “sustainable“
policies and practices. Insurers,
reinsurers, bankers, customers and shareholders are not only
paying attention, but are often seeking out organizations with
this broader vision.
The New Stakeholders
What is your company doing today
that could be perceived in the future as socially irresponsible
and/or detrimental to the environment? In addition
to Shareholders and Trustees, all organizations must consider
how their actions will be viewed now and in the future by:
- Customers and employees
- Regulators and NGOs
- "Green" consumers
- Insurers and bankers
Sustainability is a Journey
The good news is that many companies and numerous public entities are
already on the road to sustainability. As a result there are
many resources available now to assist you in determining how
sustainability can be implemented in your organization.
These sustainability tools include:
You owe it to yourself and your organization to find out all you can about
the critically important journey to sustainability when considering:
- Climate change and "Peak Oil"
- Competition for limited resources
- Increasing legal liability
- EPA and other regulations
Sustain-NW offers consultative and other services to
support you on the journey to sustainability.
Photo @ Jill Sughrue 2006