What is Karma? Karma is a Sanskrit word that means "action." Karma has commonly been considered a punishment for past bad actions, but karma is neither judge nor jury. Rather, it is simply the universal law of cause and effect that says every thought, word and act carries energy into the world and affects our present reality. From a sustainability viewpoint, how does karma apply? Many argue that business is best used as a vehicle to not only aid in solving today's environmental challenges, but also to help create a better world.
If so, then how do business leaders walk the delicate art of transitioning to more sustainable business strategies? When you think about it, the requirements to maintain a sustainable business today are quite different than they were just ten years ago. Companies on the leading edge are evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts that will ultimately affect profitability. Green business practices are becoming more and more the norm, as companies both large and small realize the value of integrating eco awareness and sustainability concepts into their operations and business strategies.
For example, many organizations are developing strategies to reduce emissions. These organizations are proactively implementing process improvements and new technologies to add value and reduce risk. By focusing on and applying resources to a broad concept, a company can drill-down to more detailed sustainable actions to address:
- Office Building Energy Consumption – evaluating the average energy use per square foot of office space and implementing best practices to reduce: energy consumption studies, efficiency practices, equipment modifications, etc.
- Operations Efficiency – incorporating energy efficient process into their daily operations, evaluating peak hour consumption, and decreasing off-hour usage.
- Supply Chain Efficiency: creating integrated processes with suppliers to improve communication, ensure common sustainable processes, and increase energy efficiency.
Other organizations are finding success in employee engagement. The post, Environmentally Conscious Companies Have More Productive Employees states, "a recent study from researchers at UCLA looked at how companywide "green" standards affect employee productivity and found that businesses that follow international environmental standards have employees that are 16% more productive than less sustainable companies."
Offering additional insights, the post Can Companies Both Do Well and Do Good? examined the correlation between the financial performance of leaders on their list and their social and environmental performance as measured by MSCI, a highly reputable firm that rates major companies. The final conclusion? "This new breed of leaders not only rejects the idea that financial market demands are more important than stakeholders' needs but also demonstrates that companies can excel at meeting both."
Masterful companies recognize that business sustainability is a mindset change that should be consistent and in alignment with organizational commitment and continuous improvement efforts already in place within the company. The critical elements to effective implementation include: executive leadership, consistent action, clear communication, and stakeholder engagement.
Apparently, the idea of companies doing well by doing good is gaining momentum. Demonstrating sustainability values through eco action is key. "Like a beautiful flower that is colorful but has no fragrance, even well spoken words bear no fruit in one who does not put them into practice." ~ Dhammapada, Sayings of the Buddha, Pali Cannon
Julie Urlaub is the founder and managing partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability social media consulting firm, where she aids clients to powerfully engage in sustainability-related issues and stakeholder communications in the social space. She can be contacted at www.taigacompany.com | @taigacompany | Facebook/TaigaCompany
Photo courtesy of flickr user Lee. Che Yi.