The Employee Engagement Network

There’s nothing like an extended period of weak economic growth following a nasty recession to subdue environmental initiatives. During my long public service career, I watched as enthusiasm about the environment waxed and waned. Leadership proved fleeting–reminiscent of the attention span of a budgie.

My last gig in government, before retiring in December 2010, included working for several years on policy issues relating to sustainability in the manufacturing sector. I found this fascinating work because of my long-time interest in environmental issues and my belief that many economic opportunities exist for North American companies that choose the sustainability path.

Governments change, and so do priorities. In my last few years in government interest in business sustainability slipped steadily. Attention spans by senior bureaucrats drifted elsewhere; Canada’s manufacturing sector was struggling for survival, like its big cousin to the south.

A retrenchment mindset causes people to act in myopic ways. Batten down the hatches. Just get through the current business quarter. There’s no excuse, however, for those in government with specific mandates to assist industrial sectors (such as manufacturing) to lose interest for the next fad. Those who are awarded the privilege to work in policy development in government need to stay focused and think long-term strategies.

So here we are in Canada and the United States, still freaking out about the Great Recession that whacked our two countries. The result has been short-term thinking.

If it weren’t bad enough that new industrialized economies (e.g, China, Brazil, India and South Korea) are already eating our lunch when it comes to manufacturing) they’re now getting in on the sustainability–Green–bandwagon. To add more misery to the West, new emerging economies (e.g., Indonesia, Philippines and Costa Rica) are joining in.

In the September 17, 2011, issue of The Economist (Schumpter, “Green Growth”), the Boston Consulting Group’s new study Redefining the Future of Growth: The New Sustainability Champions is highlighted. BCG examined 16 companies that are converting “eco-consciousness” into competitive advantage. Labeled “the new sustainability champions,” these firms are shaking up the competitive landscape through leadership: motivating employees, forming new relationships with stakeholders and creating new, locally grown ideas.

Some of the examples given include:
• Shree Cement (India) solved its water shortage problem by creating the world’s first water-efficient method in making cement by using an air-cooled process;
• Manila Water (Philippines) reduced municipal water consumption due to waste and illegal tapping from 63% (1997) to 12%;
• Sekem (Egypt) has established the goal of reclaiming desert land through organic farming.
• Natura (Brazil) offers bonuses to employees to decrease the cosmetics firm’s environmental impact.

And the list goes on.

So what are we doing in Canada and America when it comes to innovation and thinking strategically about the long-term?

Not much, especially in Canada.

The Canadian way thrives on mediocrity, storytelling about how nice Canadians are and how much the world loves us.

Pity, because the rest of the world is hungry–very hungry–to succeed.

While the European Union gradually implodes in upon itself and while the United States becomes increasingly insular and insecure, the emerging economies are steadily getting their shit together. Canadians and Americans will be all the poorer in the decades ahead unless action is taken NOW!

Yes, there are success cases out there, one of which I’ve written about in the past. Please take a moment to read my September 18 post In Memory of the World’s Greenest CEO.

Reflect for a moment on the amazing work that Ray Anderson did up to his recent death. Ray had a vision, revamped his company (Interface Inc.) and then became the world leader in sustainable manufacturing.

In closing, I’d like to share part of the conclusion of the Boston Consulting Group study.

This report showcases the practices of a select group of companies – emerging-country organizations that demonstrate that it is entirely possible to deliver exemplary financial performance while placing environmental and social sustainability at the core of operations and culture. The motives and actions of these New Sustainability Champions present pragmatic ways in which society can become a more effective steward of Earth’s natural

More encouraging still is the fact that these exemplary companies are not the only organizations that encourage hope for a sustainable future. Many others have integrated one or more of the practices on which the Champions score high marks. Collectively, such companies signal new and positive paths toward sustainable growth in emerging economies – paths that may also point to global growth that respects and accommodates environmental and societal constraints.

What are YOU prepared to do to help your organization pay more attention to Planet Earth and to become more environmentally responsible?

Photos by J. Taggart (Irving Nature Park, Saint John, New Brunswick)

Click here to download my complimentary e-book A Blueprint for Learning & Knowledge Creation: Staying Ahead of....

Visit my e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Take a moment to meet Jim.

Views: 3

Tags: Anderson, Economy, Environment, Globalization, Leadership, Management, Ray, Sustainability


You need to be a member of The Employee Engagement Network to add comments!

Join The Employee Engagement Network

580 Videos Related to Employee Engagement

Click on this eBook listing over 580 videos available on the network. When you open the document up online you can click on the title to go directly to the video. Happy and engaged viewing.

EEN Facebook Feed

Many tools provide excellent, beautiful, sophisticated, expensive answers to th...

Many tools provide excellent, beautiful, sophisticated, expensive answers to the wrong questions. I have yet to know an organization that defines engagement first and then creates its survey. Most I know ‘use that survey’… Because they can. Time to rethink?

Is employee engagement whatever is measured by employee engagement surveys? | Leandro Herrero
Engagement, retention even activism…Traditional models of employee engagement are getting a bit tired. They are starting to look the same, smell the same, and feel the same.

David Zinger’s 1500 Blog Posts on Employee Engagement (eBook)

David Zinger’s 1500 Blog Posts on Employee Engagement (eBook)

David Zinger's 1500 Blog Posts on Employee Engagement (eBook)
Everything you always wanted to know about employee engagement but were afraid to ask Here is an eBook listing all the posts I have written on employee engagement. If you open the eBook in your browser you can click on any title and it will take you right… [ 71 more words. ]

The cartoon on bullying will knock you out with its punchline.

The cartoon on bullying will knock you out with its punchline.

Latest Activity

Profile IconAnil Nigam and zifengpeng joined The Employee Engagement Network
9 hours ago
Armand Mccabe updated their profile
12 hours ago
Jimmie Menon replied to Rick Stamm's discussion Workplace Trust in 6 Words
22 hours ago
Jimmie Menon updated their profile
22 hours ago
Robert Morris posted blog posts
23 hours ago
Darko Atanasov left a comment for John Junson
Jimmie Menon is now a member of The Employee Engagement Network
Robert Morris posted blog posts

© 2014   Created by David Zinger.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service