Let’s establish a fact! Sustainability is core business; It is not something put together by a company’s PR-department!
I recently read an article focusing on which company had the best CSR-report… without ever mentioning the different companies’ core businesses (!) Not long ago there was also an article about the launch of a new Pan-European CSR Award scheme.
If competitions, awards or other types of “events” or “schemes” can give greater exposure to successful business-cases within the sustainability “area” it probably can be a good thing.
But – Where is the “Focus”?
The thing I am concerned about is whether it is focusing enough on “the core business” rather than on how it is presented.
Creating a sustainable world will not happen “over-night” and every step in the right direction is a good step – But lesson learned from introduction of systems like ISO9000 show that there is a noticeable difference between “being certified” and having a fully implemented “way of working”. The necessary effort to bring change to every part and individual in a company is far, far higher than compiling a report.
Isn’t it a risk that a well-designed CSR- or GRI-report brings a treacherous calm in an organization so that it believes it is better than it really is.
When surfing a little at CSR Europe’s site I get a little bit “puzzled” – there are numerous articles involving big existing companies, here some examples involving car companies:
- “With the commercial launch of each new vehicle, the Oyak Renault plant in Turkey has started a tradition of planting orchards in the poor villages in Bursa.”
- “Renault has been awarded the Marcel ARNAUD award by the Automobile Club Médical de France (ACMF) for the group’s efforts to decrease and prevent road risks and contribute to the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety.”This award is a great honor and support for our safety policy, which is a major pillar in our policy for corporate social responsibility”
- “The Volkswagen Group Works Council and the child rights agency “terre des hommes” are helping to improve future prospects for children and youth in poor districts of Brazil with the “A chance to play” initiative.”
Is there any risk that these initiatives, however noble they are, obscures the fact that cars and transportation today is a major source of CO2-emissions, causing climate-change and that we – the people – are being deceived?
What about companies, organisations and products that are much less familiar to the public?
“All is not as it appears to be”
Many years ago, when I attended my first grades in school, my teacher taught me that during the “middle ages” people could buy “letters of indulgence” from the church in order to be freed from their sins – any risk this is the 21th century version?
A Way of Life!
We need transformational change in our society and our “Way of Life” to address the challenge we are up for.
Any diversions from urgently focusing on the basics in our society and in our businesses will be a delay and might even make the necessary and inevitable changes even more difficult.
“If cars powered by fossil-fuel engines are partly responsible for the climate challenges we are up for, car companies cannot solve their part of the problem by “planting orchards”, they need to scrutinize and question their business at a much, much more basic level! – any “smoke-curtains” will only potentiate an increasing amount of cars and make the necessary change even harder”
It gives the old cliché “Get down to the basics” a new and stronger meaning – an unsustainable process or business will not last – this is the basic sentence of being Sustainable!
“Being less Bad is not Being Good”William McDonough, "Cradle-to-Cradle"