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Sustainability Is the Foundation of ‘Capitalism 2.0’

Despite the worst recession since the 1930’s, sustainability has found its way into the consciousness of progressive boardrooms around the world. Clearly companies see sustainability as part of a successful approach to business, even during, or perhaps especially during, difficult times. But what does this really mean? Are companies actively embracing sustainability as a defining aspect of their corporate strategy or are they just talking the talk but not really changing their fundamental business approach? I would argue that we’re getting better but we’re still a long way from where we need to be.

Sustainability Is a Loaded Word

The word sustainability still makes many business people cringe.  It’s a loaded word with a complex definition and it often creates rifts rather than harmony among people.  To some sustainability is about energy efficiency, to others it’s about carbon reduction and climate change, while for others it’s about factory working conditions.  People’s interpretation of the word and their motivations for embracing sustainability may vary, but what’s interesting is that the corporations that have found success by embracing sustainability have all done so by following a similar path.

It May Sound Easy But…

First, they clearly define what sustainability means to their organization.  Then, they harness their existing corporate culture to drive behaviour with strategic goals, well defined metrics and a clear vision for the future.  This sounds easier that it actually is but the simple reality is that when done correctly, it works.  When a company fully integrates a sustainable vision into its corporate strategy, employees have a meaningful framework within which they can interpret the new goals of the company and make sense of their role in the organization.  They feel a sense of purpose and become energized to close the gap between the current state of the organization and their envisioned collective future.  For these companies, sustainability is a defining driver of innovation, employee engagement and greater profitability.

A Missed Opportunity

But unfortunately this is not a winning recipe for widespread change – it’s just too difficult for most companies to get it right.  They’re still busy struggling with definitions, culture, strategy and figuring out where – and why – sustainability fits into their organizational chart.  And it is precisely this confusion that paralyzes sustainability’s potential as a corporate driver of risk reduction and seized opportunities.  How can companies define a sustainable vision when they still haven’t figured out what sustainability is all about? Without a clear department or a mandate to operate strategically, it gets incorporated as an ‘add-on’ to business as usual.  In fact, depending on the level of awareness, support and culture development in the organization, sustainability can evolve to be seen as a barrier to ‘business as usual’ and thus be further isolated from the important strategy decisions of the day.

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3 thoughts on “Sustainability Is the Foundation of ‘Capitalism 2.0’

  1. Please read Agenda 21, which is using sustainaiblity as a tool to implement a global government. “Sustainiblity” was created by globalists.

    “Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally…”

    “The full implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Commitments to the Rio principles, were strongly reaffirmed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)…”

    Sustainaiblity is not defined in this article, but in corp culture is it used to define what used to be called conservation, and common sense. When the term is not defined it can mean anything, and it does. It means whatever the people in power (CEO or government) say it does. But in the end, we will all be ruled by the government. And the US gov has already implemented Agenda 21. (Fed Reg, EPA Sustainable Development Challenge Grant Program, 8-23-1998, p. 45157)

    Sustainability is the Foundation of SOCIALISM.

  2. What a load of twaddle. Sustainability is not the new capitalism and thats supposed to be the point. Capitalism is about constant growth and squeezing more profit out of something for less. If this arrives from being smarter or through technological innovation this if fine but more often than not, capitalism has improved profit by exploiting resources and paying workers in poorer couuntries less to do the same work (neo-colonialism). Sustainability is supposed to be the antithesis of this where we recognise the impossibility of constant growth, and cease doing things that deplete resources, exploit the poor, affect our health or jeopardise our childrens ability to live healthy productive lives, because this is not sustainable. Making profit for shareholders and executives by creaming off the top to pay dividends and bonuses instead of diverting money back into workers or research and development to improve efficiency is also in the end not sustainable. That fact that industry has co-opted the concept to greenwash and sell more stuff, is just as sickening as ever. If companies can continue to turn a profit while also becoming zero waste, closed loop and carbon neutral then all power to them but they are sadly, and reaslistically few and far between. In most cases its just frittering at the edges.

    Oooooo, scary scary SOCIALISM! Because capitalism has been sooooo much better for us?

  3. All you anti-capitalist need to go where your wonderous socialism exists….you all have been pointing to Europe for decades…try Greece or France…god gave us a brain..use it

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