Archive for December, 2010

Embedding Sustainability in Organizational Culture

The Network for Business Sustainability will soon release its new research report, Embedding Sustainability in Organizational Culture: A How-To Guide for Executives.

NBS gave me a sneak preview of the Executive Summary of the report, and invited me to review it.

Overview of the Report

From a comprehensive review of academic research on sustainability and organizational culture (as well as studies dealing with other types of organizational culture change, such as safety and innovation), NBS’ research team identified a broad portfolio of practices for embedding sustainability.  Some of these practices have been shown, through research, to be effective, while others show potential but remain untested – at least, in an academic sense.

The researchers then grouped the practices into four different themes: fostering commitment; clarifying expectations; building momentum for change; and instilling capacity for change. These four themes together comprise the four quadrants of a new framework designed to help executives, senior HR managers, and senior sustainability managers to embed sustainability into their organizations:

Network for Business Sustainability's Portfolio Framework for Embedding Sustainability

Click here to read the full review

The Evolution of a Corporate Responsibility Policy

Today, Cenovus Energy Inc. released its new Corporate Responsibility Policy.  [Read the press release here.]

For any company, that’s a significant milestone.  For me, it’s an opportunity to look back at the evolution of a corporate responsibility policy through a decade of corporate change.

Back in about 2000, my then-client, PanCanadian Energy, a company to which I had been providing environmental and regulatory affairs advice for several years, asked if I could help them to develop a Sustainable Business Strategy. Naturally, like any self-respecting consultant, I said yes.  Thus we embarked on a complex and challenging effort to map the sustainability landscape relevant to the company’s business, to inform the development of an appropriate policy framework. Then what happened? Click here for the whole story…

A Throw-Away Lesson

Recently, Kimberly-Clark launched its newest Kleenex-brand product: disposable hand towels for the home.  On its website promoting the new throw-away paper towels, Kleenex helpfully offers these “hand drying facts”, attributed to the Center for Disease Control:

     

  • Even if a hand towel is not visibly dirty, it does not mean it is clean.
  • Regular washing of bathroom hand towels does not ensure clean hands.
  • One-time use towels have been shown to be more hygienic.
  • Hand drying with disposable towels can help prevent the spread of germs.

I find the manner of use of these ‘facts’, including their incompleteness, lack of context, and attribution, disingenuous.
Click here to see why…

Should sustainability have a seat in the C-Suite?

Some of you may recall the case study published on-line by the Harvard Business Review back in October, which posed the question of whether or not fictional company Narinex should hire a Chief Sustainability Officer.  The full Case Study is now available in the December 2010 edition of HBR (subscription required; text pages 133-137) (or try this version at Scribd, e-pages 135-139).

If you’re not familiar with the HBR Case Study feature, it generally involves a fictional scenario depicting some current business challenge and features the advice of two business leaders with subject-matter experience.  A few readers’ comments, distilled from the on-line commentary compiled previously, are included to illustrate additional perspectives.

Well, golly; the editors at HBR thought my comment “offers a valuable perspective,” and included an edited version of it in the December issue (text page 137 or Scribd e-page 139).

A few of my contacts have asked to see my comments, so I reproduce my full comments below (with the HBR-selected paragraph highlighted).  My comments will make more sense if you read the Case Study first!  Thanks for your interest!

Read my full comments on the HBR Case Study here…

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