Past Presidents’ Series: Who should drive a company’s sustainability journey?
One of the great joys of working in the sustainability field is the real freedom for organizations to be creative and innovate while they are on the sustainability journey. The scope of one’s sustainability program is dictated by the culture, mission and vision of that organization. And that is the way it should be.
Individual organizations understand their culture, which helps them focus on the activities that will best achieve their sustainability goals. In the end, an organization needs to identify what will make them sustainable and then follow their creative instincts to get there.
It is altogether wrong for outside entities to impose constraints and artificial requirements on these organizations. After all, the sustainability journey is a voluntary journey and one that is made for the future well-being of the planet, the people and the organization itself. Outside requirements that dictate how to be sustainable do not promote the creative ideas or the innovative processes that leading companies need to develop. Since it is in an organization’s self-interest to move as far along the sustainability path as possible, this should be a decision that is made by the organization itself.
Let sustainability remain a voluntary program, directed and guided by the individual organization. If they succeed, they will be around for a while. If they don’t succeed, do we really think that they will survive? Let’s keep artificial requirements out of the sustainability arena. What do you think?
Dick Pastor is Vice President at Shaw Environment and Infrastructure. He has more than 42 years of experience in the environmental field, including 18 years of government service with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and 15 years with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Before joining Shaw he was Director, Environmental Services for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where he developed the environmental management and services program for the company, going from a staff of 1 to a staff of 27 professionals. He also played a significant role in the early development of the company’s sustainability program.
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