Minicast: Corporate Sustainability
Updated: May 25
Here’s a lofty question for you: Is the world better off because you’re in it? Well what if we asked this of companies? This is trail etiquette, but for capitalism…leave no trace. A recent Harvard Business Review article explored the ground swell of organizations taking big steps toward not only minimizing our impact on the planet, but reversing it.
The argument that sustainability hinders economic progress is all but squashed. 80% of the companies that have taken a public and strategic action against environmental, social or governance issues have outpaced benchmarks.
Nearly all of the 500 largest companies have set carbon targets, with some going bigger than others. Here are just a few.
Unilever has been on the top of the list for 11 years as the most sustainable company in the word. But this is not at the expense to either the shareholder or stakeholders alike. The article tells of Life Buoy, a lowly line of soap in their European portfolio. When asked by UNICEF to donate soap for neonatal kits , they sent branded soap, and the support to expand the hand washing program. Lives were saved and profits were made. There can be balance.
Walmart has set its sights on making thing right as well. Their goal is to be a “regenerative company”. We see this is the new Sam’s Club rebranding as “a purpose driven brand”. Their tagline: “Made with our Member and planet in mind”. And along with this, a list of aspirations by 2025 here in this link.
Apple partnered with Alcoa and Rio Tinto to manufacture aluminum that produces no carbon, uses little energy, and is also cheaper. Audi jumped at this and is now using it in their electric vehicles. One more reason I need an Audi.
Microsoft has set an exciting goal: by 2030 they will be carbon negative and roll back all carbon emissions since their inception in 1975. As they start down the path, carbon reduction and offsets are how they are making progress. Check out the plan and journey on their blog. And yes there is data and graphs. Cause you know, it's Microsoft, why not use Power BI and Excel.
Like me, you may be wondering, with all this progress, why it is still so hard and expensive to incorporate sustainability into our day to day. We still need ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) vehicles for long trips or work, solar is expensive, recycling is a pain, specifically glass, and all of course all that damn plastic. And it still feels like throwing money in the wind to “offset our carbon”. We have to remind ourselves that it will take time, and remember how far we have already come. Just getting over the perception of sustainability vs. profitability is a seismic shift.
Like anything we need to keep making the small steps toward bigger goals. Taking advantage of ways to be more sustainable. Our local power company now offers customers an inexpensive way to switch to renewable energy. As stakeholders, we have the power by voting with dollars and time. Find out which companies are doing more than others to reverse our footprints, and share what you learn with friends and family. But it is not a soap box, it is a dialogue on how to help each other find ways to reduce our impact on our beautiful home.
All this to say, big or small companies have more opportunities to effect change than ever before, which is really exciting. It’s going to be a rewarding journey. And in that journey remember to leave no trace.
And speaking of Trace, to learn more about how a small local company is trying to make a difference, check out the VWC most recent interview with Michaela Barnett, owner of KnoxFill.