Why Should Corporate America Care About Climate Change?

by Aman Singh Das | November 06, 2009

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With the international meet on climate change spearheaded by the UN coming up soon in Copenhagen, it has become important that businesses and individuals understand how the results will affect us all. And this isn't just about making sure our future generations survive, it is also about the present, i.e., our jobs, the way we do business, the way we consume, our spending decisions, our employment decisions and the executive suites' management decisions.

In light of the above, below is an excerpt from an article by Nikos Avlonas, founder of Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE), a European think tank on sustainability and CSR issues. His case being that U.S. businesses and the government must lead the world in changing the way we do business because it will be (regardless of belief or opinion) a huge proponent of a global economic recovery.

In a few weeks, representatives from around the world will convene in Copenhagen, under the auspices of the United Nations, to focus on a new international agreement on climate change. This is a very important moment for the world. The world needs the U.S. to set an example, something that could be achieved should the bill concerning the reduction of carbon emissions be passed. However, the bill, currently being discussed by the Senate, will probably not be passed in time for Copenhagen. Polls also indicate that ordinary Americans are becoming less engaged with climate change issues. Arguments claiming that the costs are too high are not necessarily true since a strong agreement in Copenhagen is essential for global economic recovery.

Intelligent companies and countries like the U.K. are working to better understand—and cut—those carbon emissions ahead of new regulations and use Carbon Neutrality or Carbon reduction schemes as a competitive advantage for their investors, customers and society’s environmental expectations. This is mainly achieved through the consistent and appropriate use of Sustainability strategy and reporting. Nowadays corporate management practice undergoes serious transformation due to a well-established trend towards a sustainable development approach, especially amidst the global financial and economic crisis.

The cognitive process towards reporting on Sustainability derives from the acknowledgment of the highly-assessed stakeholder theory discussed among academicians within the management discipline. According to acclaimed scientists from the field of management the stakeholder analysis empowers the understanding of company’s environment and enhances its capacity to cope with increasingly unpredictable changes and transformations.

He goes on to make a note of the necessity for evolving the current roles of HR professionals to CSR Specialists to encompass the goal of sustainability into the business.

The creation of annual Sustainability Reports should neither be perceived nor become an end in itself or just another promotion tool for organizations, which are really sustainable. The creation of such a report should be perceived as a means of communication with stakeholders (shareholders, customers, employees, partners, society), which leads to a competitive advantage rather than as a means of promotion. Wherever the latter occurs it becomes evident by the fact that there usually are no indicators or performance measurements to show that the company has integrated the Sustainability concept, whereas projects little connected to social responsibility are unduly emphasized.

Skilled CSR specialists should replace the PR or communication managers to instill the concept throughout the whole organization and avoid green washing. Sustainability is a unique concept for increasing company competitiveness and supporting financial performance only if it is used in the right way and U.S. companies could and should lead the way.

To read the complete article, click here.

Filed Under: CSR

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