Sustainability – actions not yet in the spotlight

I have spoken to a number of audiences both locally and internationally in the last two months about sustainability and how it is shaping the way we look at business.
While there are a number of trends that are occurring globally, not many are drawing the media attention of the “Occupy” movement. There are numerous explanations of “Occupy” and it is taking media space because it is dramatic, making its point that the current economic model is inequitable by taking public action to capture both imagination and publicity. I question that the movement represents the “99%”, however they have received a lot of media traction and credence as a strong force.
When I compare the impact of companies adopting sustainability practices to the “Occupy” movement, the contrast is stark, and media interest limited.
Those businesses I deal with are focused on delivering value to their client base in an environmentally sustainable way.
They aren’t seeking the publicity, they are getting on with the job of being environmentally sustainable. The action they are taking is important to their clients, their business and the future of the communities they operate in, yet they don’t seem to get the same level of media coverage.
Largely this is by choice – some of the work being done is innovative and may not work at its first iteration. If the business seeks publicity before it reaches an acceptable level of performance, then I suspect any effort will be deemed a “failure” rather than a step in the process to get things right.
Success is an iterative process.
Once the strategic decision is made and the steps planned, progress is rarely in a straight line. There are constant adjustments to get things right, and yet we live in a world with the false expectation of perfection from the outset.
There is some great work going on in a number of SME’s as they seek to improve their environmental impact, and progress to operating emissions free. The path is difficult, and the sense of cynicism high, yet those that have made the strategic choice to show environmental leadership and get it right will be seen as overnight successes at some time in the future.
Does action speak louder than words?
Possibly, though it would be helpful to all of us if the trailblazers of today were documenting their progress, announcing their successes and failures, so that we could all benefit from understanding their progress and the obstacles that we will have to overcome to develop an environmentally sustainable business model.