10 steps toward organizational sustainability

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Author and consultant, Katrin Muff, shares an inspirational story from a recent day she spent facilitating an organization’s shift toward embracing sustainability and shared values.

Note: this article is part of The Transatlantic Debate Blog series, which forms a conversation between Dr. Katrin Muff and Dr. Kathy Miller Perkins on business sustainability. Read the previous post here.

What does it take to get an engineering company to embrace their care for a better world? Is it possible to provide access to the deeper meaning of sustainability to those who define it as either one-dimensional economic long-term survival, or as a predominantly ecological issue?

These were my questions as I prepared for my consulting day with a medium-sized traditional Swiss engineering company. The sustainability-fluent CEO had invited me to lead a workshop with his senior team, including the board, in a first conversation towards formulating a vision 2030 for a company that, in his view, had embrace sustainability. I am sharing here the step-by-step process of that very positive one-day workshop.

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Why bother with sustainability if companies fail to consider Sustainable Development Goal 16?

The future of sustainability is focused around the new global Sustainable Development Goals launched in September 2015. Momentously, Goal 16 calls governments, business and civil society to:

“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Without peaceful, inclusive societies, sustainable development has no ‘enabling environment’. Yet, discussion of ‘peace and stability’ with many corporate representatives is often received with a quiet, “not really our responsibility” or “we don’t oTGG_Icon_Color_18perate in conflict zones”. But as part of a community, or part of a social ‘system’, business can work with other actors to support their peace efforts. Business contributions to peace are crucial for conflict-affected countries, as well as countries not seen as
‘conflict zones’ but which experience instability and low-level violence. Indeed business support for peace is important in all countries, and can include for example, supporting measures aimed at inter-cultural/faith/sect understanding and countering terrorism. If companies ignore how they impact (both positively and negatively) on a country’s conflict(s), and how they can proactively help prevent or mitigate violent conflict, what is the point of sustainable development when big business is such a key global player? And ultimately, peace means prosperity for both communities and business.  Continue reading

Three Rules of Success for Sustainable Change

The world is at war.

And I’m not talking about the terrible war in Syria or the recent terrorist attacks. I’m talking about the war against the root causes that are real drivers and amplifiers of the aggression we see nowadays. It is a war against depletion, scarcity, degradation, poverty and exclusion and for health, wellbeing, biodiversity, prosperity and inclusion. It is the most important war we, as influencers in public and private organizations, can fight at this moment, and since we are our own worst enemy in this case, we need to stand united in tackling this complex issue.  Continue reading