Jennifer Rice wrote an article in the Marketing and Strategy Innovation blog titled, The Elephant Under The Table, which talked about the Sustainable Brands Conference - more importantly sustainability in today's marketplace. The author's position can be best summed up by this inspiring paragraph.
Sustainability is bigger than using harm-free materials or using less energy. It requires a fundamental shift in thinking, a long-term view and an exploration of new business models. It means redefining what success looks like, such as measuring the number of PCs leased and recycled instead of millions of units shipped per quarter. It’s the difference between GM and ZipCar. In the not-too-distant future we’ll be building products to last, reversing the trend of consumerism and disposable thinking.
In no way am I belittling the responsibility and challenges of the leaders of the world's Commanding Heights. However, I would think this particular business issue would cause panic in the board room back in, oh let's say, 1995. It goes back to my statement about perceived risk, and the cost associated with it. In fact Alan Greenspan supports my point better than I can explain it (see video). He saw a risk in clamping down on the economy, which would have created 10% unemployment. The decision to avoid the risk of 10% unemployment may very well have introduced the reality of 15% unemployment.
Although we, as a nation, are coming off a very bad high. I believe this was necessary to head back to the fundamentals of a good economy and a great society. Free markets open the door for new ideas, but they do not free you from being responsible. Like it or not, every CEO needs the modest janitor to buy his pack of gum, or the hard-working teacher to watch his cable station. We are all connected to the CEO's bottom line and his brand. This doesn't require a change in leadership, but a monumental shift in values - for every business and every consumer.