CSR Efforts Correlate with Employee Engagement

“People buy from people they trust.” That was a slogan we used in sales training at IBM. We used it to reinforce the human element of a customer-supplier transaction. No trust, no sale. There’s a similar dynamic in the relationship between employees and their companies. If employees’ values resonate with their company’s values, and if they trust that their company genuinely cares about the same things they care about, then they are more energized and productive.  A company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts signal what it cares about. Their co-benefit is that they seem to increase employee engagement. Read More

CSR Efforts and Employee Engagement Drive Business Results

Wouldn’t it be great if we could show that companies which embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR) reap financial rewards? Sustainability champions armed with this information would be welcomed by business leaders seeking new ways to get the most from their companies’ resources and efforts. Fortunately, the links between CSR efforts, employee engagement, and business results are becoming clearer. Read More

The Sustainability-Enabled Business Value Chain

business value chain In my September 21, 2010 blog, I synergized a generic business value chain. It’s based on several other models and frameworks, and represents the most important elements from each. Why would sustainability champions care? When selling sustainability strategies to business leaders who are preoccupied with ensuring that every link of their value chain is optimized, we need to meet them where they are. We need to relate our propositions to their business priorities, and show them that our recommendations will help them beat their competitors. By showing how sustainability-related strategies are helpful to key elements in their current business model, we gain their support and accelerate their adoption of sustainability-based approaches. We make sustainability relevant. Read More

A 15-Link Generic Business Value Chain

The March-April 1994 issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) featured a seminal article, “Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work,” by James L. Heskett, Thomas O. Jones, Gary W. Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, Jr., and Leonard A. Schlesinger. At that time, I was working in IBM Canada’s Leadership Development department. The article was a welcome reinforcement for the important role that mangers play in building an energizing and empowering work environment for their employees—a foundational link in a chain of value leading to company success. Read More

4 Reasons Why the WBCSD’s Vision 2050 is Significant

At the World CEO Forum in New Delhi, India, in February 2010, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released its Vision 2050: The new agenda for business report. Pulling this together was not a trivial task. It was compiled over an 18-month period by 29 leading global companies who represent 14 industries. It reflects the combined efforts of CEOs and experts, and benefits from dialogues with over 200 companies and external stakeholders in some 20 countries. The effort was significant. So is its content, for four reasons. Read More

3 Recent Guides for Sustainability Champions

In my bibliography at the end of The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook, I list “20 Good Books on Transforming to a Sustainable Enterprise.” Happily, that list of resources for agents of transformation keeps growing. Here are three more excellent, free, downloadable resources that came out in the last year which I would welcome to my previous list of 20:
  1. Planning for Sustainability, from The Natural Step
  2. Making Your Impact at Work, from Net Impact
  3. Greening your Business, from the RBC Royal Bank
1. The Natural Step’s Planning for Sustainability: A Starter Guide Read More

Another Elephant in the Sustainability Room: Over-Consumption

In myAugust 24, 2010, blog, we explored a dilemma for sustainable companies: growth. This week we will discuss its Siamese twin: over-consumption. It’s the second undiscussable elephant in the board rooms of companies aspiring to be sustainable enterprises. Consumption is the root cause of growth, since companies grow when the demand for their products grows. Read More

An Elephant in the Sustainability Room: Growth

In today’s business model, growth is a given—an imperative. “Grow or die” is the undisputed maxim of business leaders. The stock market punishes companies that do not meet growth expectations. Growth is good. However, continuous growth appears to be at odds with sustainability principles. Growth is the 'un-discussable' elephant in the board rooms of companies aspiring to a sustainable business model. So let’s make it discussable. Since growth is synonymous with progress and with winning in the game of business, we need to show how sustainability strategies are relevant and support companies’ growth goals. Yet we know that continuous growth is inherently unsustainable, given the finite carrying capacity of the planet. In nature, continuous growth is called cancer. In fact, passionate, principled champions of sustainability find it repugnant to suggest they should help companies grow since it is against their core values to do so. That’s why some shy away from the “sustainable development” label—development implies growth, and growth is unsustainable. Ergo, “sustainable development” is an oxymoron. Read More

Sustainability – The 4-Step Transformation from Stage 3 to Stage 4

Is it really possible for a company to become a sustainable enterprise? Yes, it is. But, it requires a significant transformation. No company will undertake such a significant metamorphosis unless it increases its value. In fact, each step must benefit the company or it will be difficult to convince shareholders and other important stakeholders that it should go further on the sustainability journey. The four stepping-stones from an unsustainable company to a sustainable business model are designed to ensure that each step produces real business benefits. In my July 27, 2010, blog, I described the five-stage journey that a business follows—as it moves from an unsustainable enterprise in Stages 1, 2, and 3 to a sustainable enterprise in Stages 4 or 5. In my August 3 blog, we looked at four reasons the current take-make-waste model of business used in Stages 1-3 is not sustainable. In my August 10 blog, we contrasted the take-make-waste model with a sustainable, cyclical, borrow-use-return model of commerce. This week, we will drill down to examine four critical stepping-stones between Stages 3 and 4. Read More

5 Criteria for a Sustainable Business Model

It’s one thing to critically assess how today’s dominant business model is not sustainable; it’s another thing to design one that is. As sustainability champions, we need to have a positive vision of the pot of gold at end of the sustainability rainbow. We need to be able to respond to a “put up or shut up” challenge with a description of a sustainable business model that is better for the environment, society, and the company. In my August 3, 2010 blog, I described four critical attributes of today’s way of doing business that make it unsustainable. We are facing serious constraints as we experience a rising demand from an exploding world population for increasingly scarce resources. Today’s linear take-make-waste business model is not designed to handle this reality. In fact, it is culpable for contributing to its unsustainability. Read More