Doing the right thing: for the planet or for your business?
During the Business of Sustainability sessions last week I was asked about the green executives I had interviewed for my book, The Green Executive – were they doing what they were doing because they felt it was the morally correct thing to do, or was it because it was just good business sense?
The answer of course is “both” – they were passionate about their values AND it was good for the business.
But the reality is a bit more subtle than that. The executives were almost all highly passionate about doing the right thing, but they were astute enough to realise that if what they proposed wasn’t good for the business then it wouldn’t be sustainable in the small ‘s’ meaning of the word. A dose of healthy business pragmatism was required.
In other words there is a “sustainability sweet spot” where personal passion for the planet and business acumen overlap – see my Venn diagram below.
If you are passionate about the planet, but ignore the business case, then either you will be ignored yourself or ultimately you will damage your business (or organisation). On the other hand, if you are only coming to sustainability from a purely business point of view you will probably lack the vision and perseverance to deliver real change. If you hit the sweet spot then you are a true Green Executive – and this is what sets the guys I interviewed for the book apart from the also-rans.