Can you guess the name of this actor? (courtesy of Lawson Stone)
In the social era, everybody’s becoming an activist.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the feeds on your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Empowered by the social web, everybody’s posting, sharing, retweeting, commenting, or liking a political, social or environmental cause these days.
Causes are now mainstream chic. Everybody’s got a pet movement (or five) on their belts, and they aren’t afraid to let the whole world know about them.
I’m sure you’ve heard of friends or relatives who are tree huggers, vegans/vegetarians, anti-whalers, re-cyclists, fair trade unionists, anti-sweatshoppers, yadda yadda… (I’ve got quite a few pet causes myself)
Unfortunately, most companies fail to catch this new wave of conscientiousness. Just look at the number of firms lambasted for being unfair to their workers, exploitative of indigenous tribes, or destroyers of ecosystems.
Operating in the falsehoods of a bygone age of plenty, they do not grasp the benefits of a Triple Bottom Line (ie people, profit, planet). Leeching off their employees, the environment, and the communities in which they co-exist with, they destroy more than they give. Often the end result isn’t sustainable from a people, resource and revenue standpoint.
How then should one operate? Perhaps we can consider these Ten Commandments for a start:
1) Thou shalt find ways to reduce thy resource consumption, through fishing from sustainable oceans, recycling of raw materials, mining from renewable sources, or investing in energy saving equipment.
2) Thou shalt reduce thy pollution by ensuring that noxious gases are not emitted to the environment, nor toxic wastes not dumped into rivers.
3) Thou shalt find ways to achieve zero carbon status by purchasing carbon credits, replanting trees, or investing in green technologies.
4) Thou shalt be generous and kind to thy employees, treating them as how thou wishes to be treated. Work-life balance is not a myth. Profits should be shareth widely through stock options, bonuses, incentives and commissions. Welfare is working fair.
5) Thou shalt be a fair employer and not give preferential treatment to staff based on colour, gender, age, beliefs, lifestyles or any other factors. Bigotry is not a sustainable business practice.
6) Thou shalt not exploit thy suppliers nor customers and squeezeth them till they go under. Everybody is in business to make a livelihood, so do be fair to them. Fair trade is a plus too.
7) Thou shalt encourage thy customers to embrace planet friendly options. Thy costs may be slightly higher initially, but thine long-term savings far outweigh the initial investments.
8) Thou shalt practice “eco-office” concepts and discourage/ban thy employees from printing reams and ream of paper. If going paperless isn’t possible, seek first sustainably sourced/ recycled paper.
9) Thou shalt participate in thy communities, finding ways to contribute to local causes and concerns. Ye shalt listen to thy families, schools, and residents to determine how thine should act.
…and finally, the most important perhaps…
10) Thou shalt not fudge, deceive, or obscure one’s business practices from public scrutiny. The truth shall prevail. In other words, thou shalt not lie (or at least when it impacts thy stakeholders).
Are there other ways we can make our businesses kindler, gentler and more sustainable?