“Sustainability is key to Nike’s growth and innovation. Making our business more sustainable benefits our consumers who expect products and experiences with low environmental impact, contract factory workers who will gain from more sustainable manufacturing and our employees and shareholders who will be rewarded by a company that is prepared for the future.”
Two Revolutions for Business Prosperity
There are “two very exciting revolutions taking place in the world right now that are having an impact that will make every business better” stated David Jones, CEO of Havas Worldwide and co-founder of One Young World in his recent Wall Street Journal Europe article. Far more than trends, these two revolutions are Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Media While each is powerful in its own right, they are also inextricably linked.
Advancing from the philanthropic CSR of the past, companies are shifting from a narrow pursuit of profit to integrating sustainable practices into the core of business strategy. Havas joins many others in stating that “sustainability represents the single largest opportunity for forward thinking businesses today.” Applying a sustainable lens to business practices not only reveals ways to impact social and environmental issues; it also drives innovation to find new ways for business to prosper.
In the second revolution, Social Media has the power, speed and scale to instantly spread a message across the globe. While these tools can certainly be used by companies to market their products and services and build their brand image, Social Media also forces transparency and reveals “green-washing” practices. Consumers are far more educated about social and environmental issues and this awareness is influencing their purchasing decisions. Havas Worldwide states that “studies on consumer behaviour prove that in practically all markets, consumers ….tend to prefer companies, products and brands which are sustainable.”
Businesses that leverage the power of sustainable practices and utilize social media to raise awareness and build brand image will reap the benefits of greater profitability as they convert their customers, employees and other stakeholders into advocates for their products and services. Is your business maximizing the potential for these two revolutions? If not, you aren’t just missing out on opportunities, but may be running to catch-up to competitors or repairing your public image in response to reports from advocacy groups of questionable environmental or social practices that have gone viral on YouTube.
David Jones, Opportunities to make business better The Wall Street Journal Europe, March 19-21, 2010.