Recently I was drinking an organic fair-trade soy latte while chatting with a long-time sustainability consulting colleague of mine who asked me what I thought about the sustainability consulting shops that were popping up all over the place.
The short answer – I couldn’t be happier. For one thing, for sustainability old-timers like me, it further validates the relevance and need for the sustainability consulting marketplace. For another, it breeds competition and innovation, which I love. Moreover, I figure, the more people there are making noise the more people will be busy justifying the business case for sustainability, which is quite helpful.
Corporate sustainability makes a lot of sense. Reduce your costs and risk, increase profit, strengthen reputation, protect and conserve natural resources and social value while enhancing share value…what’s not to love? So why is it that so many internal sustainability champions struggle to move their initiatives forward? Perhaps it’s not the proposition at all – maybe it’s the approach.
I was determined to find the answer, after all, if I could understand what prevented the C-Suite from immediately grasping and acting upon the sustainability proposition I would become a more effective advisor. So….I convened a round table of like-mined sustainability colleagues to learn why the C-Suite moved so slowly on the sustainability front and here is what I found:
- It delayed the process. As the old political axiom goes, ‘if you don’t know, delay – and maybe the ask will go away’
- Change is most often rejected when presented head-on
- Sustainability is regarded by many as just a “tick-box” exercise
- Competing for resources with a known entity (aka business as usual) with known returns is a tough slog