Error On The Right Side of History, and Make a Profit at the Same Time
It’s time to take out the trash that holds back your business
There is a world-wide upheaval going on, in case you did not notice. From inequality, to civil unrest, to migrating refugees, to the climate crisis and more, history is happening. Will you, and your business, be on the correct side of history?
Protests in Hong Kong, across Latin America, in Europe and, elsewhere erupt each day. In recent weeks, the largest movement ever to hit the streets came as millions of youth rose to bring attention to how greed before a healthy planet isn’t going to work out, especially for diminishing species and the most vulnerable people.
So far as we can tell, only the penguins in Antarctica are not protesting and it’s not for lack of a reason to do so.
You may not even believe in climate change, so you opt out. But wealth inequality and under-representation by the marginalized is also undeniable. You may not wish to give up single use plastic, or lobby for clean jobs, but nevertheless you and your industry is affected by the increasingly energized pulse of the public.
The public view of how industry is viewed is necessarily more critical daily. Your customers, as well as your team, are going to be noticing things from natural lighting, wasteful paper use, powering down to save energy, durable supplies, and a need for innovation. Many may opt for telecommuting rather than traffic jamming. Even things like professional power suits in need of dry cleaning are being questioned: Why not have a more casual, and less polluting, dress code that speaks to more equal power dynamics?
However, industry and business does no favors in seeing themselves as villians. In chaotic times there is more room than ever before for opportunity. As marine life and fishing grounds dwindle, for example, there is an opportunity to profit from creative alternatives to plastic like biodegradable paper, or cellulose based products. As native people’s rise up to defend sacred lands and waters, clean energy opportunities are growing like death zones in the ocean.
When it comes to the social justice issues, of which climate change is just one, (a BIG one) people will insist on fairness, equal compensation, representation, and much more.
This is not to make light of serious matters. But, until people begin to see that for every sin, human business has an opportunity for correction, and even a public appreciation, the continuing conflicts are not going anywhere, and fair marketing is imperiled by such stagnation.
When it comes to the social justice issues, of which climate change is just one, (a BIG one) people are going to be insisting on fairness, equal compensation, representation, and a better deal, whether it be a new green deal, or a similar horse of another pleasing color.
Last month, as vast regions of the Amazon rain forest burned, Jeff Bezos, (of the other Amazon), called for a Climate Pledge. Amazon intends to electrify their transport, pledge to green policies, commit to decarbonization, donate 100 million dollars to the Nature Conservancy and more. This does not prove that the company is not adding to consumption, or waste, but it does show that they recognize the world is waking up to environmental problems, and publicly addressing them.
Amazon, and other giant corporations, are rightfully scrutinized. Smaller companies, however, will increasingly be critically viewed as well. Maybe Amazon is priding itself on being a better role model, but that too, is being scrutinized, and critical thinking skills will also judge your industry if things follow the usual historic arc.
Once upon a time, it was “smart business” to profit from slavery, underpay women, and routinely let the maimed, injured, and overworked be fired without recourse. It was normal to have child labor and pollute without consequence. But times change, and we all need to change with the times.
And, besides the obvious good that industry owes all citizens, there is tremendous creativity and innovation to be discovered when challenges are faced. Discovering bio-solutions such as roofing granules that absorb smog, using durable products rather than single use ones, finding ways to plant carbon storing walls, roofs, and cityscapes is just better.
Even providing programs to provide oxygen producing office designs (green space and plants) adds more productive thinkers and healthier employees.
Stop to think with your employees, and brainstorm. It is amazing, and very profitable, to be truly green rather than just greenwashing for the sake of being trendy.
Will you business grow? History indicates that when people do the right thing they feel more pride and ability to sustain a healthier workplace, and a healthier world.