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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

10 Top Things Every Business Leader Should Know About Strategic Sustainability

1. Sustainable Abundance is good for business. Every product and every service needs to be re-invented to create a sustainable future. This is the greatest economic opportunity in history. (Consider automobiles, light bulbs, airplanes, energy…. everything.)
2. High Sustainability Standards and Maximizing Human Benefits can generate “leapfrog” designs to invent new products and new business models. (Toyota was creating the Prius while other car companies slept.)
3. Sustainability Thinking saves money. The relentless challenge to improve durability, re-use parts and eliminate packaging brings bottom line innovation. (91% of old Xerox copier parts are reused in “new” Xerox machines.)
4. Removing the Bad attracts new customers. Consumers and business customers are stampeding to choose the benefits of non-toxic, no-waste products (Clorox’s non-toxic Green Works Cleaners is their fastest growing product portfolio.)
5. Create a Cause Bigger Than Your Brand. Over 80% of consumers say they choose brands that support good causes because it makes them feel like they are “voting with their wallet.” (ClifBar’s brand in the manufactured nutrition bar business repeatedly earns the highest loyalty rating. They famously support the organic sourcing and the buy local food movement as well as women and fitness initiatives.)
6. Sustainability Obliterates Costs. When smart people consider how to satisfy a need or want without waste or even cost, new business models spring to life. (When Apple designed the ipod, eliminating the cost/waste of CD manufacturing, shipping and distribution was the natural outcome. The ipod led to the iphone, greener product design and tens of thousands of digital apps which create user loyalty without more cost.)
7. Sustainability Drives Game-Changing Business Models. When leaders consider solving huge problems in sustainable ways, new thinking creates breakthrough businesses. Before the radio, who would have thought of music with a band? Before the light bulb, who would have thought of light without a flame? (Today micro-entrepreneurs are installing solar panels on huts in the world’s poorest areas because solar generated OLED light is cheaper than kerosene. Power without the grid. Is everything possible?)
8. Sustainability Creates Smart Marketing. Engaging your customers in the benefits and breakthroughs of your green and sustainable products requires a new level and a new type of communication. It’s called smarketing. Marketing that makes your customer smart. (GE recently asked design students to come up with creative ways to use GE’s new organic LED lights. Tens of thousands have seen their video on YouTube and the product launch is still months away.)
9. Sustainability Attracts Top Talent. The best science, engineering and business schools report that top graduates only want to work for companies that are serious about making a difference in creating a sustainable future. (Ask any college recruiter.)
10. If You Don’t Fully Embrace Sustainability, You Are Toast. The debate over green is over and green won. Consider the failures of GM and the transformation of Wal-Mart. It’s better to ride the wave than drown in the rip tide of change.

For information on the speech or seminar, “Leading for Sustainability,” email

Views: 242

Comment by Ian Berry on January 17, 2010 at 10:08pm
Good top 10 Will. Well done.
Comment by Marc Brenman on January 22, 2010 at 8:37am
These are terrific points. Thanks! I wonder if social equity and diversity could be considered part of sustainability, especially since the world is becoming a more diverse place. Traditionally, equity is defined as part of sustainable development, but one rarely hears about it. Public participation, cultural competence, and a perception of fairness are other aspects.
Marc Brenman
Social Justice Consultancy
Comment by Henry Alzamora on January 22, 2010 at 8:53am
Pretty assertive points, socialization and spreading these precepts must be pondered through out the high and medium line board of directors, to create more utility functions around the corporation. I have my theory which will be published in a book that say that Moral, Trust, Honesty, Sustainability, etc, are "accountable assets" of any corporation, it creates value for stakeholders as well, and value in the mean sense of money or profit too, this is the time where all these important intangibles values are FOR REAL tangibles otherwise we will need again and again another economic recession to prove it.

Henry Alzamora, MBA
Corporate Business Consultor
Comment by Anupama Pasricha on January 22, 2010 at 9:15am
Great!!! Those are powerful messages. Thanks Will.
Marc, I see social equity part of sustainability as I believe in the tripple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Could you expand on diversity.
Anupama Pasricha
St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN
Comment by Brad Boekestein on January 22, 2010 at 3:01pm
Great post. I would like to add one more. Jack Loechner posted a great article today on how companies need to use New Media to address Corporate Responsibility. The study shows that 74% of people expect companies to join conversations about their corporate responsibility practices happening on new media.

The entire article can be viewed here:
Comment by Derek Guest on January 22, 2010 at 10:06pm
Excellent Top 10! Couldn't agree more. I've been trying for some time to promote the same message.

Comment by K.L.Srivastava on January 22, 2010 at 10:52pm
The points mentioned in this post make an excellent case for a coherent sustainable business movement.
Hope we are moving in that direction.

Comment by waseem iqbal on January 23, 2010 at 12:45am
Good . it is really a great post
Comment by Ganda Situmorang on January 24, 2010 at 11:32pm
This is the very top 10 of business's perception. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Joanna Lambert on January 25, 2010 at 4:08am
Excellent inspiration, thankyou!! Joanna Lambert


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