irresponsible behavior of some corporations generates well warranted
public mistrust, however, tarring all companies with the same brush
is a gross injustice to the sustainability leadership shown by many
For more than a
decade, early adopters have been leading the charge to craft a more
ecologically friendly world. Now those who led the way have helped
that approach morph into a key success factor that adds value and
provides a competitive advantage.
There are a number of
companies who are assuming a leadership role in efforts to protect
the environment, mitigate against climate change and educate the
public. While it is easy to understand why some fall prey to the
mistaken belief that the bigger the corporation, the greater the
level of corporate irresponsibility, this is simply not so. Some
corporate giants like Unilever
demonstrate that you can be a global corporate force and be
responsible at the same time. Another well known company that is a
global leader in sustainability is Patagonia.
Their corporate conduct is exemplary.
There are many other
companies that do not get the public recognition they deserve. Here
is a review of some of the recent efforts being taking by ten diverse
businesses in defense of a healthy planet. Some are well known while
others, less so. This broad cross section of initiatives samples the
responsible conduct of ten different companies.
AECOM is a global
company that is making a positive impact in a broad range of market
segments. They have incorporated sustainability into their operations
and community activities. They were named one of the World’s Most
Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for the
third-consecutive year and they are a signatory and participant in
the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate
responsibility initiative. AECOM’s 2012 employees are leaders in
volunteerism and along with the company, they have contributed 3.5
million in charitable donations last year.
Ceres is a charity
that has not only incorporates sustainability into all of their
activities, they are actively helping others to do the same. Their
and Interactive Website educates people and companies about the
different elements of sustainability.
pioneer Ecotricity is a maverick company that has launched an
effective approach aimed at raising awareness about the need for
clean energy. They are driving renewable energy awareness through an
which has received more than 2.6 million views. This video addresses
the pressing need to replace traditional power stations with green
technology. This humorous and touching short film deals with the end
of the fossil fuel industry and the rise of renewable (wind) energy.
IBM has been a green
leader for more than three decades. During this time they have been
recognized for their environmental efforts and in 2012, they received
the European Union Code of Conduct for Data Centers Award in
recognition of their long term efforts. IBM’s innovation in the
corporate world includes some stellar examples of consumer education.
The firm’s Smarter Planet Initiative encourages consumers to live a
more sustainable life.
Samsung Electronics is
actively involved in greening their management, products, processes,
workplace, and communities. Their take-back and recycle program is a
model that keeps e-waste out of landfills. Through the program, old
products can be given back in stores and efficiently recycled. This
is a critical initiative as the problem of e-waste is an every
This energy efficiency
giant is also a leader in social responsibility and sustainability.
They are a model for their efforts to encourage employee volunteerism
with over 20,000 Sony staff members involved in efforts to feed the
hungry, build homes for the needy and clean waterways.
As reviewed in the
(2012), Vestergaard Fandsen shows the life-changing effect of disease
control with water filters in rural Western Kenya. The firm’s
Carbon for Water project, which is funded by carbon credits, delivers
safe water to 4.5m people in the region, improving the health and
well-being of 900,000 families, slowing deforestation and cutting
2.4m tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
Some companies like
Veja are changing the traditional business paradigm altogether. Veja
is an ethical footwear brand that has a ‘no advertising’ policy,
the company communicates the environmental and social benefits of its
products through a mix of PR, social media and events. The brand
rewards workers fairly for their work, and uses sustainable materials
and methods like real rubber, natural dyes and organically farmed
cotton. Even their shipping is more sustainable as they emply boats
rather than air freight. The company’s ethical values have succeeded
in increasing sales more than 10 fold.
The German automaker
is behind some of the greener cars on the market. Volkswagen’s
holistic approach drives their concept of “thinking blue,” which
is about both saving energy and living more efficiently. They offer
a number of green tips in their‘ Think Blue Blog.”
Walt Disney has more
influence on children than any other company on earth. They are a
sustainability leader through three core values: Act, Champion and
Inspire. Act ethically and consider the consequences of your
decisions on people and the planet. Champion happiness and well-being
of kids and families. Inspire kids and families to make positive
changes in the world that last.
Even some corporate
citizens that have questionable records are getting serious about
increasing their sustainability efforts. One such company is Apple.
While they were previously the subject of widespread criticism, they
are making significant inroads in their sustainability efforts which
include going 100 percent renewable. With the hiring of former EPA
chief Lisa Jackson in May, the company appears to be committed to
improving its environmental record, “I wasn’t going to go
anywhere that didn’t espouse those values,” Jackson recently told
a crowd at GreenBiz.com’s VERGE conference in San Francisco.
are improving their environmental and social performances and
educating people about sustainability in ways that inspire behavior
change. Minimizing environmental impacts and being more socially
responsible is also a matter of reducing costs and increasing
profits. Such activities benefit a firm’s reputation and positions
them to thrive as we become increasingly concerned about social and
environmentally issues. Most importantly, such businesses are
reducing their adverse impacts and providing a model for the world.
It takes time and effort to become a green leader, but smart
companies are making the investment and reaping lucrative dividends.
In a world where some
corporations continue to ignore their social and environmental
responsibilities, it is important to recognize responsible businesses
for their groundbreaking leadership.
Source: Global Warming is Real
Patagonia May be the World’s Most Responsible Company
Patagonia Shows the Way with Responsible Business Leadership
Video – Yvon Chouinard Founder of Patagonia and 1% for the Planet
AECOM’s Sustainability Leadership
Unilever: A Sustainable Corporate Giant
Unilever Sustainability Journey: Go Big or Go Home
Video: Sustainability at Unilever
Corporate Sustainability Leadership in America
The Most Meaningful Global Brands of 2013
The 2013 World’s Most Ethical Companies (Ethisphere)
2013 World’s Most Admired Companies (Fortune Magazine)
The World’s Most Sustainable Companies: The Global 100 (2013)
10 Great Companies Who Were Green Before It Was Cool”
Green Businesses that Made It Big
Interface’s Award Winning Sustainable Product Innovation
PUMA’s Comprehensive Sustainable Strategy
HP’s Sustainable Innovation Serves the Planet and Profits
Walmart and HP’s Sustainable Supply Chains
HP and Dell Sustainability Journeys