It is evident that the world has begun to change - and not only for the worse. Many of us now recognize that there is more satisfaction to be had when we think beyond our own wants and desires. We may realize we are more connected by our spending decisions. It was only a matter of time before corporations joined us on our kumbaya journey of interconnected living.
What is Corporate Sustainability?
Corporate sustainability is an entirely new business model. It still keeps the importance of profit and growth, but requires that a company pursue societal goals, such as environmental protection or social justice.
If you work for a company like this (hello, Nature’s Path!), coming to work is a driving force like no other. It is not just about one person, or one position. It is not even about the companies we work for. Corporate sustainability introduces the idea of caring for, and contributing to, much bigger missions.
How Small & Big Companies Make a Difference
As corporate social responsibility increases, so too do the trends. Forbes commented on the corporate sustainability trends that shaped 2016, which included corporations rallying calls to action for climate change after once being seen as adversarial in the same fight.
A noticeable 2016 trend was the recognition that social justice is no longer off limits. CoverGirl featured its first male model, introducing a corporate acceptance of gender fluidity.
Corporate social responsibility is also skewing in the direction of transparency. As we learn where our food comes from, we have begun to grow interested in where our fashion comes from, and how our favourite companies operate. SouthWest airlines even called a campaign “Transfarency” to showcase its value on no hidden fees. Companies started to adopt the popular TOMS “one for one” model, such as Canada’s Mealshare program, a nonprofit organization that partners with restaurants. You have the option of giving away a meal to someone in need every time you dine out in cities across Canada. Mealshare considers transparency important and asks partnering charities to share the impact each month.
There are also the tried-and-true companies who were participating in corporate sustainability long before it was popular. Patagonia is one example, having been clear about its desire to affect social and environmental change as a result of its policies. Patagonia's website includes short films about Fair Trade and petitions asking senators to designate the coastal plane of the Arctic refuge as wilderness. Patagonia also encourages customers to prolong the life of its products or return worn-out clothing for repurposing or recycling. Such diverse initiatives prove that corporations don't need to be driven by a bottom dollar. They can also be driven by a greater planet.
Although many have declared 2016 as a difficult year, it has also brought shifts in global thinking. Powerful companies that may have once ignored problems now recognize that they are the essential forces for positive change. These corporations are addressing what they have done, and what they need to do to fix it.
What’s more promising than a corporate “I’m sorry?”