When Global Businesses Can Provide Global Hope

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Last week I wrote about global warming and the importance of acting upon it. I also mentioned the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, who throughout his campaign denied the issue and planned to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on a global climate deal. While Trump seems to be slightly pivoting on the matter, much to the amusement of the media and relief of climate change believers (who accept the more than compelling scientific evidence in support of it), his latest rhetoric“I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much” – is still far from reassuring.

What I personally find much more reassuring is the recent blog piece from Harvard Business Review. As Andrew Winston, the author of The Big Pivot, puts it, ‘Sustainable Business Will Move Ahead With or Without Trump’s Support’. Here are some of the reasons for this hopeful prediction:

First of all, Andrew argues that there is momentum on the clean economy right now, which cannot be stopped. Indeed, as a recent Guardian article reports, 2015 showed a record worldwide investment and implementation of clean energy, which is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Such good economics make a great case for clean energy not only at the governmental level, but also for global businesses. According to the relevant Ceres report, large corporations are increasingly turning to renewable energy because it makes good business sense. More specifically, the report highlights that businesses benefit as renewable energy helps reduce long-term operating costs, diversify energy supply and reduce the impact of changes in traditional fuel markets. In fact, as the report indicates, more than two-thirds of Fortune 100 global companies have set clean energy commitments.

Secondly, although climate change may seem at times a ‘distant and far-away’ issue, global companies are actually feeling its impacts already now, which mobilizes action. As mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, the World Economic Forum leaders indicate that pollution, increasing water stress, and increasing occurrence of severe weather events due to climate change are among the top global issues. Naturally, this topic is relevant also within the field of global mobility, as global issues imply riskier destinations and more hardship allowances for globally mobile employees.

Thirdly, Andrew highlights the impact of millennials, who indicate a shift in consumer priorities. As a Business Insider article highlights, Gen Y demands more sustainable products and prefer more socially responsible companies. In other words, millennials are not only pressuring businesses by consuming more environmentally friendly products, they would also prefer working for a ‘greener’ company. And that seems like a relevant factor to consider, given that millennials make up an ever bigger part of the working population.

Consumer expectations are also linked to the next charging power behind sustainable business, namely social media. Social media does in fact act as an influential power of social proof, or social disproof on that matter, and global businesses need to deal with it.

Taken together, there is a really strong business case for organizations to proceed with a transition towards clean energy: it is cost efficient in terms of production, it supports health and safety initiatives for employees, it satisfies environmentally aware consumers, and it attracts increasingly green-minded talent. Hence, it makes (moral and) business sense to become a sustainable business. Moreover, global businesses can take the lead on this matter, despite a particular political landscape. So…I feel hopeful, how about you? 🙂

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