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Topics: Business Analysis, Change Management, Communications Management
Sustainability, organizations and projects
Currently the majority of organizations are engaging in sustainability and challenging the PMs, even those interventions for the small changes and short time of schedule, to reach goals aligned to the vision, mission and values attained to the SDGs (UNO). Do you believe this scenario is representing most a risk evaluation attitude/perspective or a trend that has no return and is culturally emerging as a global society demand?

Consider 2 perspectives of response:

a) Internal and voluntary answer of the organization in favour of the sustainability development; and

b) Organization answer in response to the pressure society is demanding on its activity.

Thanks for your comments, in advance!
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To me, particularly, b, aligned to the risk evaluation.
Vagner, my view:

SDGs, ESG, DEI are recent trends reaching the business community. Some compliance pressure is indeed built up and less so some organizations try genuinely to follow thru, like Patagonia. For most though, it feels like lip service if you see how they implement it.

Overall, the economy still is based on making profits though and priorities are clear. The wars in Ukraine and elsewhere also neglect all of these three, to the point that the EC designated nuclear and gas ecologically friendly in their urgent need, even if self inflicted, to provide energy to the EU.

If the rubber hits the road (aka if you make losses, if you feel attacked, if you panic), compliance and other constraints will be set aside and the core purpose of your organization prevails.

Thomas
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1 reply by Vagner Antonio da Silva
Oct 17, 2022 4:20 PM
Vagner Antonio da Silva
...
Hello there, Mr. Walenta. I understand and respect your point of views which consider the theme sustainability (involving acronyms like ESG), for organizations, something new. However, we need to consider the evolution of the society – from which the organizations are inseparable and important component due to the impact (both positive and negative) they present in return of their activities.
The corporate social responsibility (CSR) – a previous chapter in the evolution of the debate that brought to the light of today the corporate sustainability (CS), encompassing more aspects to deal with the present society demands, synthesized on the approach of ESG for the companies, has its roots at the beginning of the 20th century.
Different economic visions about how organizations should behave in front of their externalities over the communities, environment and so on, dictated branches of leaderships like that cited by you, as Patagonia.
I could include in this same philosophy the Brazilian Natura (utilizing communities and raw matter trying to make the least intervention possible as well valuing the benefits of maintaining the Amazon Forest characteristics), or the American Interface (providing tapestry for the business environment recycling raw matter and reorganizing the production to focus on service) and the movement that created new ways to conduct the organizations on sustainability, like the B certification – which attract new and small entrants, once start a business with this philosophy is reasonably easier on this kind of structure when compared with the giants where the culture is not well adapted to these “new” concepts. Unfortunately, the auto determination on that way is still reduced whether we understand the dimension of the global business.
The debate can be extensive in terms of time, but the UNO Conference of Stockholm occurred in 1972 – 50 years ago, and brought to the table of global society the same aspects today “explored” by the giants in terms of responsibility, social investment, environment caring, ethical profitability, etc.
Also, in one hand, as the Nobel Prize Milton Friedman (1962) used to say in his theories: "the most social non-responsibility would be if the companies do not deliver profits to their shareholders" - indicating, on the other hand, that the social investments (including that on environment and ethics) would seem like these shareholder were financing something that only society would be accountable for, despite the externalities of the businesses.
But, just to contribute to the PM community, all of those “projects” can be well influenced by the professionals – and certainly the good examples brought to this debate were conducted by PMs with this kind of mindset already reached.
Obviously that in times of turbulence - like along a pandemic and war periods, is possible that some advances can get back (as the examples you have pointed are in course in the EU). But, in the long run the main planning in favour of the sustainability needs to be resumed, validating the efforts of all the conferences promoted since 1972. And this can start "brick to brick" / "project to project".
Thanks for your comments and contributions which enriched the context and reflections about the theme.
From long time ago the organization where I am working on has implemented sustainability in all its initiatives. It is a way of thinking and behave. So, in my case, is a).
...
1 reply by Vagner Antonio da Silva
Oct 17, 2022 4:37 PM
Vagner Antonio da Silva
...
Very good, Mr. Conte. Sometimes the ESG approach of today is not linked to the efforts already done by many philosophical attained organizations around the sustainability of the past, which, since the beginning of its activities, or seeking good benchmark examples, adapted their strategy to reach simultaneously high level of development to their stakeholders on the "thought" PPP (planet, people, profit), which, nowadays, could include another P, of purpose/principles, aligned to their mission and vision. I'm certain that you're role is delivering, supporting and disseminating this flag along the activities to assure a better future to the next generations. Thanks for your contribution and all the best in your projects.
Oct 17, 2022 6:19 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Vagner, my view:

SDGs, ESG, DEI are recent trends reaching the business community. Some compliance pressure is indeed built up and less so some organizations try genuinely to follow thru, like Patagonia. For most though, it feels like lip service if you see how they implement it.

Overall, the economy still is based on making profits though and priorities are clear. The wars in Ukraine and elsewhere also neglect all of these three, to the point that the EC designated nuclear and gas ecologically friendly in their urgent need, even if self inflicted, to provide energy to the EU.

If the rubber hits the road (aka if you make losses, if you feel attacked, if you panic), compliance and other constraints will be set aside and the core purpose of your organization prevails.

Thomas
Hello there, Mr. Walenta. I understand and respect your point of views which consider the theme sustainability (involving acronyms like ESG), for organizations, something new. However, we need to consider the evolution of the society – from which the organizations are inseparable and important component due to the impact (both positive and negative) they present in return of their activities.
The corporate social responsibility (CSR) – a previous chapter in the evolution of the debate that brought to the light of today the corporate sustainability (CS), encompassing more aspects to deal with the present society demands, synthesized on the approach of ESG for the companies, has its roots at the beginning of the 20th century.
Different economic visions about how organizations should behave in front of their externalities over the communities, environment and so on, dictated branches of leaderships like that cited by you, as Patagonia.
I could include in this same philosophy the Brazilian Natura (utilizing communities and raw matter trying to make the least intervention possible as well valuing the benefits of maintaining the Amazon Forest characteristics), or the American Interface (providing tapestry for the business environment recycling raw matter and reorganizing the production to focus on service) and the movement that created new ways to conduct the organizations on sustainability, like the B certification – which attract new and small entrants, once start a business with this philosophy is reasonably easier on this kind of structure when compared with the giants where the culture is not well adapted to these “new” concepts. Unfortunately, the auto determination on that way is still reduced whether we understand the dimension of the global business.
The debate can be extensive in terms of time, but the UNO Conference of Stockholm occurred in 1972 – 50 years ago, and brought to the table of global society the same aspects today “explored” by the giants in terms of responsibility, social investment, environment caring, ethical profitability, etc.
Also, in one hand, as the Nobel Prize Milton Friedman (1962) used to say in his theories: "the most social non-responsibility would be if the companies do not deliver profits to their shareholders" - indicating, on the other hand, that the social investments (including that on environment and ethics) would seem like these shareholder were financing something that only society would be accountable for, despite the externalities of the businesses.
But, just to contribute to the PM community, all of those “projects” can be well influenced by the professionals – and certainly the good examples brought to this debate were conducted by PMs with this kind of mindset already reached.
Obviously that in times of turbulence - like along a pandemic and war periods, is possible that some advances can get back (as the examples you have pointed are in course in the EU). But, in the long run the main planning in favour of the sustainability needs to be resumed, validating the efforts of all the conferences promoted since 1972. And this can start "brick to brick" / "project to project".
Thanks for your comments and contributions which enriched the context and reflections about the theme.
Oct 17, 2022 7:28 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
From long time ago the organization where I am working on has implemented sustainability in all its initiatives. It is a way of thinking and behave. So, in my case, is a).
Very good, Mr. Conte. Sometimes the ESG approach of today is not linked to the efforts already done by many philosophical attained organizations around the sustainability of the past, which, since the beginning of its activities, or seeking good benchmark examples, adapted their strategy to reach simultaneously high level of development to their stakeholders on the "thought" PPP (planet, people, profit), which, nowadays, could include another P, of purpose/principles, aligned to their mission and vision. I'm certain that you're role is delivering, supporting and disseminating this flag along the activities to assure a better future to the next generations. Thanks for your contribution and all the best in your projects.
I would suggest there is a 3rd motivation: Marketing

Some companies may be proactive in sustainability efforts but not for the reasons they would like you to believe. It merely helps their brand name.

VW/Audi marketed fuel efficient and clean diesel cars, but went to some lengths to install devious engineering to fake test results. Clearly they didn't embrace sustainability at all. Chocolate companies like Hershey's might advertise their commitment to the environment, but use child slave labor so clearly they are not ethical champions either. Logging companies may advertise their sustainability efforts, but without them they would soon eradicate their feed stock. Companies advertising compostable plastics may not embrace the environment so much as embracing a lucrative market space.

It's politics. The advertised motivation may be very different from the actual motivation. Rather than taking a defensive posture, they may be trying to capitalize on their appearance of being socially conscious.
...
1 reply by Vagner Antonio da Silva
Oct 18, 2022 4:09 PM
Vagner Antonio da Silva
...
Very well placed, Mr. Novak. Some organizations demonstrated in the near past one or more examples where their sustainability approach was just being reactive and following the sector leaders movements without reviewing adequate and deeply their procedures to fully reach their goals, embracing the marketing way and leading them to be interpreted as "greenwashers". There is really an appeal behind the sustainability in the business world which can amplify the market share in many ways. Not just reporting annually (GRI / SASB) as required to the organizations with public shares on the main stock exchanges globally to assure they are doing a good work on these issues in front of their stakeholders (including environment, communities and global society - as in the case of global warming guidance multilaterally agreed on the world conferences). Understanding that the marketing is derived from an external demand, think you are opting to the alternative b, too. Thanks for your contribution for this short debate that can promote more reflections on the role of the PMs in supporting the companies on their sustainable goals, with holistic and systematic view.
Oct 18, 2022 1:04 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
I would suggest there is a 3rd motivation: Marketing

Some companies may be proactive in sustainability efforts but not for the reasons they would like you to believe. It merely helps their brand name.

VW/Audi marketed fuel efficient and clean diesel cars, but went to some lengths to install devious engineering to fake test results. Clearly they didn't embrace sustainability at all. Chocolate companies like Hershey's might advertise their commitment to the environment, but use child slave labor so clearly they are not ethical champions either. Logging companies may advertise their sustainability efforts, but without them they would soon eradicate their feed stock. Companies advertising compostable plastics may not embrace the environment so much as embracing a lucrative market space.

It's politics. The advertised motivation may be very different from the actual motivation. Rather than taking a defensive posture, they may be trying to capitalize on their appearance of being socially conscious.
Very well placed, Mr. Novak. Some organizations demonstrated in the near past one or more examples where their sustainability approach was just being reactive and following the sector leaders movements without reviewing adequate and deeply their procedures to fully reach their goals, embracing the marketing way and leading them to be interpreted as "greenwashers". There is really an appeal behind the sustainability in the business world which can amplify the market share in many ways. Not just reporting annually (GRI / SASB) as required to the organizations with public shares on the main stock exchanges globally to assure they are doing a good work on these issues in front of their stakeholders (including environment, communities and global society - as in the case of global warming guidance multilaterally agreed on the world conferences). Understanding that the marketing is derived from an external demand, think you are opting to the alternative b, too. Thanks for your contribution for this short debate that can promote more reflections on the role of the PMs in supporting the companies on their sustainable goals, with holistic and systematic view.

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