Did You Know...

That in the wake of the debate around global warming, 'green' companies are gaining more prominence worldwide?

While the dispute regarding the phenomenon of global warming rages on, a new trend is emerging—green is starting to sell. Companies touting their 'greenness' are popping up everywhere. Even the language used to describe such companies is interesting. There's HIPTM (for Human Impact + Profit), a new way of viewing investing. Similarly, John Elkington has coined the term 'triple bottom line.' Wikipedia defines this concept as follows: "In practical terms, triple bottom line accounting means expanding the traditional reporting framework to take into account environmental and social performance in addition to financial performance."

As another sign of the green times in which we live, influential magazines, such as Inc. and Fast Company, are publishing green company lists. In their recent article, 'The Green 50,' Inc. states that while companies have historically expressed an occasional interest in sustainability, the tone of that expression has changed. "This time, the action is being driven as much by markets as morality."

Cars are another example. While plenty of people (especially in North America) continue to drive SUVs, it's suddenly 'cool' to drive a hybrid. In their article, 'Hybrids Are Hot,' MSNBC News states, "Even BMW, the maker of German performance vehicles, and Porsche, known for its race-inspired sports cars, now say they'll get into hybrid production by the end of the decade."

The Worldwatch Institute tracks companies around the globe, publishing their 'Corporate Responsibility Reports Take Root' on an annual basis. Sometimes referred to as 'non-financial reports,' these publications cover everything from labor standards and their impact on local communities to toxic releases and greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the almost 1,800 reports filed in 2004 (up from virtually none in the early 1990's) are filed by European corporations. Of those produced between 2001 and 2005, 54 percent came from Europe, 25 percent from Asia and Australia, 17 percent from North America, 2 percent from South America, and 2 percent from Africa and the Middle East.

So what does all of this attention to sustainability around the globe have to do with us as business coaches? What is our responsibility to the companies we serve regarding this issue? The larger question may be what responsibility, if any, do we have to the environment? Do we overstep our boundaries as business coaches if we include environmental issues alongside leadership and business models?

If the April 16th issue of Newsweek is any indication, probably not. Its cover story, entitled "Leadership and the Environment," asks the really important question: "Is the push to save the planet a fad, or a turning point?" Crisis or not, as international business coaches we must, at the very least, be informed. If our clients are not considering the effect of environmental issues on their businesses (including their bottom lines), we can ask relevant questions to raise awareness about this increasingly significant component of industry.

And, yes, the debate about global warming will continue to rage, because the potential threat is important enough to grab the headlines. Let's not wait for a final resolution before introducing the concept of green into our business coaching conversations!

Sources:

Adler, Jerry. "Moment of Truth." April 16, 2007. Newsweek 45-48. Available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17988870/site/newsweek.

"Corporate Responsibility Reports Take Root." July 7, 2006. Worldwatch Institute. Available at http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4268.

Fast Company Staff. "The HIPTM Scorecard: A new way of looking at the human side of investment performance." April 2007. Fast Company 84-85. Available at http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/114/open_features-measured-progress-sidebar.html.

Job, Ann. "Hybrids Are Hot." Available at http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4023397.

Kantner, Larry. "The Eco-Advantage." November 2006. Inc. 78-103. Available at http://www.inc.com/magazine/20061101/green50_intro.html.

"Triple Bottom Line." Wikipedia. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bottom_line.

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