Please Get Serious About Sustainability

By Brooke Spallino

If sustainability is a mere me-too or amounts to little more than window-dressing at your company, please quit pretending and stop doing it right now.

But if your intentions are serious, read on.

Sustainability programs are hardly new, but too often they still fail to go beyond lip service at many of the companies kglobal has observed. Every major corporation seems to be elbowing each other out of the way to portray themselves as a champion of sustainability it is, but in reality, most lack a solid commitment.

Each week brings a new story of a company whose claims of pure ingredients, safe working conditions, organic certification, animal welfare, environmental responsibility or trustworthy supply are exposed as marketing puffery.

The fact is, sustainability requires true vigilance and placement of its values right alongside the profit motive.

To make your company stand out, consider these approaches:

 

  • Create an ethical supply chain program: General Electric, for example, executes and closely monitors a program in which suppliers must agree to comply with a Suppliers Expectations contracting process. GE conducts on-site assessments according to the country in which they are located, to determine if the parts the suppliers are producing is in line with their expectations. And GE does a great job being transparent with its findings, a practice that reassures customers, suppliers and regulators.
  • Chief Sustainability Officers should be open to disclosing information to stakeholders and shareholders about their implementation of sustainable measures, processes, and goals. And CEOs should make sure these officers are visible and available to stockholders and consumers.
  • Be on the alert for one of the persistent scourges that previously has slipped under the radar but is coming under increasing scrutiny – human trafficking. This persistent problem in developing countries is a major ethical issue for Millennial and Generation Z consumers.
  • Have a longstanding commitment to report on your sustainability journey. For example, The Coca-Cola Company issues an annual sustainability report that encompasses the company’s global operations. It details all of Coca-Cola’s sustainability efforts and accomplishments, which include sustainable packaging, climate protection, human and workplace rights, women’s economic empowerment, and giving back to communities.


Because more and more consumers are conscious of Sustainability issues and lawyers and government regulators are vigorously enforcing a wider array of violations, companies have no choice but to create and sustain viable Sustainability programs that can withstand scrutiny from online social media.

Still, the only thing worse than not having a Sustainability program, is pretending to have one when you really don't.