How Attitudes toward Sustainability began to evolve in the new Millennium

Those that never got it…

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully”  (George W. Bush)Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 16.21.40

“I do have a disregard for the environment.  I think the world can look after itself and we should enjoy it as best we can”  (Jeremy Clarkson)

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment.  It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it” (Dan Quayle)

“Any man who rides a bus to work after the age of 30 can count himself a failure in life”  (Margaret Thatcher)

“… ‘social responsibility’…(is) a fundamentally subversive doctrine” (Milton Friedman)

…those who began to get it (?)…

“It pains me to say this, but I am becoming less cynical about corporate social responsibility” (Jane Fuller, Financial Editor, FT, July 2003)

“I’ve become more enthusiastic day by day.  I don’t think there’s any question of my conviction on this issue – I’ve come to feel it very strongly” (Rupert Murdoch)

“We forgot to listen…we have irritated and antagonised more people than we have persuaded” (Robert Shapiro, ex-CEO Monsanto)

“We thought we could sit in Bentonville, take care of customers, take care of associates – and the world would leave us alone.  It doesn’t work that way any more” (Lee Scott, CEO, Wal-Mart)

“The Nike product has become synonymous with slave wages, forced overtime and arbitrary abuse” (Phil Knight, CEO, Nike)

…those who did get it… 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”  (Charles Darwin)

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children”  (John Audubon)

“Stealing our children’s future is a crime”  (Ray Anderson, Founder of Interface)

“Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts”  (Glenn Prickett, SVP Conservation International)

“Every tonne of carbon from now and until 2030 must grow at least 5 times more in terms of economic productivity.  That is serious decoupling”  (Christina Figueras, Executive Secretary UNFCC)

“We have an economy where we steal from the future, sell it in the present and call it GDP”  (Paul Hawken, author and entrepreneur, 2011)

“We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change”  (Al Gore)

“Sure we are hypocrites.  Every one of us, almost by definition.  Hypocrisy is the gap between your aspirations and your actions…But the alternative to hypocrisy isn’t moral purity (no one manages that), but cynicism”  (George Monbiot)

…how it began to change business…

“Embarrassingly, for those of us who have scorned the idea of corporate social responsibility, some of these companies now claim to be setting higher standards than any government would dare to impose on them”  (George Monbiot)

“In the future, only companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage”  (C.K. Prahalad et al, Harvard Business Review)

“While many companies may still think of global warming as a corporate social responsibility issue, business leaders need to approach it in the same hard-headed manner as any other strategic threat or opportunity”  (Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review, October 2007)

“Innovative brands consider their role with regards to the environment and sustainability and they think about their impact on the world in a way that extends far beyond corporate social responsibility to become more about central brand strategy”  (Jim Stengel, ex-Procter & Gamble global marketing director)

The road ahead 2“Sustainability is the business strategy.  It’s our roadmap for how we operate and how we innovate”  (Jeff Immelt, CEO, GE)

“The agenda of sustainability and corporate responsibility is not only central to business strategy but will increasingly become a critical driver of business growth…”  (Patrick Cescau, CEO Unilever 2007)

“Many global businesses, including Nike, Unilever and Google, have recognised that the days of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are over”  (Mike Barry & Lucy Calver, Marks & Spencer, 2010)

“Others are talking about low-hanging fruit, we’re still picking our fruit from the ground”  (Lee Scott, CEO Walmart)

“How do we turn sustainability into a ‘pull’ function, not a ‘push’ function, within a corporation?  The answer lies in viewing sustainability as a strategic prism through which to view the resiliency, future growth trajectory and value creation potential of a company”  (Hannah Jones, VP of Sustainable Business & Innovation, Nike)

“We are already finding that tackling sustainability challenges provides new opportunities for sustainable growth: it creates preference for our brands, builds business with our retail customers, drives our innovation, grows our markets and, in many cases, generates cost savings”  (Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever 2010)

“Social media has taken CSR out of a silo and put it into the P & L”  (David Jones, CEO Havas Worldwide)

“I don’t think our fiduciary duty is to put shareholders first. I say the opposite. What we firmly believe is that if we focus our company on improving the lives of the world’s citizens and come up with genuine sustainable solutions, we are more in synch with consumers and society and ultimately this will result in good shareholder returns” (Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever 2012)

…and marketing…

“Marketing is one of the last domains of commercial enterprise to face up to issues of sustainable development.  Yet…while marketing got us into this mess, it may be that marketing can get us out”  (Ed Mayo, Chief Executive, National Consumer Council, 2005)

“We need to reinvent the way we market to consumers.  We need a new model”  (A.G. Lafley, CEO, Procter & Gamble)

“CSR communication is a dead concept – it’s down to Marketing now”  (Anthony Kleanthous, WWF)



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