Seeing how people were fired up when they learned that Burberry routinely burns luxury clothes instead of doing something useful with them, shows how far we have come. A lot of companies still hold on to the illusion that a token charity initiative here and there, or having a corporate social responsibility programme is good enough. Sadly for them, the era of token corporate social responsibility has passed; we are now entering the age of the sustainable economy where your staff and consumers want to know: how is your business being fair, doing good to aid the needy, combat climate change as part of your business processes and growth.
I had a strong sense of this shift when I did a workshop in the Phillippines last month to explain about the Economy of Communion – a global network of companies and professionals who seek to contribute to shaping a sustainable economy. About 200 youth from about 40 countries attended the workshop. From their numerous questions, you could sense how eager they were about shaping a better world. Their questions ranged from how to build a business where corruption is the norm or how do I manage a difficult staff who is taking advantage of my goodwill while remaining fair. It is clear that the youth of today are not only demanding action for sustainability but is keen to be part of the action too.
Going forward, I see the rising tide of companies who are transforming their entire business models to contribute towards a sustainable economy grow stronger simply because their staff and customers demand it. Large multinationals know this and they have begun the process. From Unilever to Apple and Danone, they have been reviewing their supply chain and use of the earth resources to shape a better world. It will be a long process but it has begun because these companies know that if they don’t their businesses will not be sustainable.
This is also why we created the initiative of World Company Day to tell every company on earth that contributing to a sustainable economy also means that your business has a sustainable future. If there are CEOs who still need to be convinced, then I am afraid that they are not future-ready.
Whenever we feature a company that has just signed the World Company Day pledge, we ask them to share their work based on the following questions. Many companies have found the following nine questions thought-provoking and it could be useful for you to convince a CEO or board that is about to reconsider the role of the business to shape a sustainable economy:
What do you do as a company?
What is your purpose as a company and why is it important?
Give an example of how a product or a service provided by you is making an impact in shaping a better world?
Can you share a story that best describes the culture of your company?
Share an example of how you are working with suppliers and partners to improve the state of the industry or the world.
Tell us a special moment when a customer gave you feedback that helped you understand the difference that you are making for them and for a better world.
What does your company believe in and why?
Why is the World Company Day important?
At the end of the day, how do you know if your company has contributed towards shaping a better world?
One of our latest signatories is Mundell & Associates, they are an earth and environmental consulting company that brings their experiences, education, talents, personalities and group synergy together to support clients in solving their most difficult earth science and environmental challenges. And they are doing incredible work.
To the last question, this was their answer: “We see a world ‘left behind’ that is different than the way we found it – its cleaner, healthier, and able to be productive for the next generation. And, it was accomplished without putting other companies out of business to do it. That’s true sustainability! After 23 years – we have a track record of hundreds of relationships and a meaningful life.”
As we celebrate World Company Day (WCD) today, let us go and tell every company on earth that contributing to the sustainable economy makes good business sense. It is becoming clearer that our ideas about a sustainable economy are on the right track. Our time has come, let us enlist more companies to shape a sustainable economy!
Chairman of World Company Day