The language of sustainability – phrases like “being proactive;” “our social responsibilities;” and “sustainable value creation” – is becoming the new variety of “weasel words,” according to an article in The Age. Words that are repeated while being devoid of meaning.
The danger is that corporate acknowledgement of the importance of sustainability, and widespread adoption of its language, increasingly runs the risk of being seen as a facade – or dispassionate compliance,” according to the article.
What should companies do? The article suggests that a company should be its own harshest critic: “This point was well made by Lynette Thorstensen, group head of sustainable business practices at IAG, at the 2007 CSR Congress, when she said ‘you have to be careful not to believe your own rhetoric.'” Today, it’s companies that speak honestly and begin to redesign their organizations that benefit.