Business Can Lead the Way If Government Fails

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - For those who care about the environment and social justice, the election of Donald Trump is a shock. Some of have wallowed in despair, while others entertained thoughts of leaving the country. By now, most should be thinking about what can be done to fight for what we believe in. 

The business community has a unique and important role to play in making the country more environmentally responsible and more inclusive. Sustainability has become an important part of what it means to operate a business responsibly. The Bruntland Report for the World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” By that definition, the business sector is leading the way in fighting some of the greatest issues of our time.

Lest we forget the eight years before President Obama, let’s talk a walk down memory lane. And let’s remember that this site was founded during the Bush administration, a time when the business sector became the best way forward to fight climate change and other environmental problems. S.C. Johnson is a good example. During the tenure of the Bush administration, the company showed how business can lead the way to protect the environment when the government fails to act. Here’s a summary of what one company did:

  • In 2001, SC Johnson developed a Greenlist environmental classification system that evaluates raw materials based on their impact on the environment. 
  • In 2002, the company joined the U.S  Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program, a voluntary partnership to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • In 2003, the company broke ground on its first turbine for a project that uses cogeneration to create steam and electricity for its largest global manufacturing facility.
  • In 2006, SC Johnson became the first company to reach its GHG emission reduction targets in the Climate Leaders program.

Many businesses are leading the way to fight climate change, which is arguably the greatest environmental crisis we face. Last year, 154 companies across the U.S. signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, expressing both their support for the Obama administration’s climate action plan and the Paris Agreement. A group of well-known companies pledged $140 billion worth of low-carbon investments. The group included Google, Apple and Goldman Sachs. 

Inclusivity in the workplace for minorities is an important issue. It is one some companies are tackling successfully. DiversityInc ranks the top 50 companies for diversity. The top 10 on this year’s list included Kaiser Permanente, which made the number one spot. The company has a 66 percent higher average of African Americans, Asians and Latinos in total management than other top 10 companies, double the average of the top 50, and more than double the national average. It also has a 77.8 percent higher average of African Americans in senior leadership than the top 10, and more than double the average of Asians in total management than the top 10 and triple the top 50 average. 

We may face some dark years when it comes to government policies, but the business sector can continue to lead. Companies can continue to show what environmental sustainability and inclusiveness looks like. They can inspire us all to be better Americans.

Photo: SC Johnson