Why we don’t do Sustainability certifications…
Every so often, someone contacts me about a new Sustainability certification they’d like me to promote to my clientele. I always say ‘No’.
Two reasons: first off, I’m not going to risk the client/advisor bond of trust by recommending something just because someone has spammed e-mailed me about it. And second, I fail to get excited about certifications.
- Certifications are, by definition, lowest common denominator. In order to be universally applicable, by definition they have to be vague (and often come under pressure from potential certificate holders to set the bar low). By contrast, I stretch my clients to do what they would never have imagined doing, so I need them to have a completely different mindset.
- Certifications tend to be process rather than outcome driven – as skewered by the quip “ISO14001 allows you to destroy the planet in a well-documented manner.” Again, this isn’t the mindset I want to instil in my clients interactions – I want results.
- Certifications take a significant resource for compliance. I am staggered at how much of some of my clients’ time is taken with compiling returns for, say, the CDP – in some cases 3 months of the year. That’s some overhead which could be used for reducing that carbon footprint.
Those clients tell me they see certification as a backstop below which the company will not fall – a bit like a rock climber’s piton. That’s fine, but not for me – my job is to guide them up the rock face to the summit, somebody else can work on the pitons.