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by Aman Singh Das | September 01, 2009

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From intense questions like what is Corporate Social Responsibility to "How green is green enough?" it was all discussed and debated today here in Hotel Monaco, Chicago on Day 1 of the CSE Practitioner Workshop, hosted by European think tank Center for Sustainability and Excellence.

As I prepared to head into an avalanche of information on best sustainability practices and labor relations, I looked around the room and realized a profound, if uncomfortable, truth. Out of 20 attendees, 14 are men. Someone once said to get an issue attention, get a man to talk about it, it'll have immediate attention. And it seems like that's true. These are directors of sustainability, PR professionals, an ex-pilot and even an account executive at a major food and beverages company. They're all interested; the difference is some have the knowledge while others have the drive.

And the rest is supplied by lead trainer and founder of CSE, Nikos Avlonas who with his sheer enthusiasm and tons of data supplies ample subjects for debate.

The workshop itself started off with a loaded debate: Is the government doing enough in the CSR domain? If not, does it fall on companies to pick up the slack? How? And then there is the ROI argument as well. Especially in the current downturn, when resources are fewer than even as recent as last year.

While there are no black and white conclusions, there are some stark facts that will need to be dealt wih sooner or later. For example, the fact that our consumption levels here in the US are already beyond what the earth can deliver. If India and China decide to jump in and increase their consumption levels, that figure multiplies several times!

Of course I cannot put a day's worth of discussions and opinions in one blog, suffice it to say that being green is going to have to mean much more than recycling or purchasing a green ticket for your trip.

If you are looking for a productive and progressive career, choosing a socially responsible employer needs to go much higher on your priority list than stopping at being economically responsible and sound. Because soon, your company will fall behind in this sustainability standards race.

Like Mr. Avlonas puts it: You only have two choices. Either you lead or you follow.

Next stop: Striving for Sustainability amidst a financial crisis. Stay tuned!

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Filed Under: CSR
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