Representatives of 15 organizations on the leading edge of sustainability in Canada explain why businesses don’t take action on social and environmental issues.

The Ivey Business Journal, from the Richard Ivey School of Business, in Ontario, Canada, asked representatives of 15 “organizations that are on the leading edge of sustainability” why businesses in Canada “don’t take action on social and environmental issues.”

The top 10 reasons listed in the Journal:

  • There are too many metrics that claim to measure sustainability—and they’re too confusing.
  • Government policies need to incent outcomes and be more clearly connected to sustainability.
  • Consumers do not consistently factor sustainability into their purchase decisions.
  • Companies do not know how best to motivate employees to undertake sustainability initiatives.
  • Sustainability still does not fit neatly into the business case.
  • Companies have difficulty discriminating between the most important opportunities and threats on the horizon.
  • Organizations have trouble communicating their good deeds credibly, and avoid being perceived as greenwashing.
  • Better guidelines are needed for engaging key stakeholders, such as aboriginal communities.
  • There is no common set of rules for sourcing sustainably.
  • Those companies that try leading the sustainability frontier often end up losing.

The full story discusses each of the items.

One interesting tidbit in the details: “Survey research shows employees would rather work for sustainable firms — and some would even forego higher earnings to do so.”

The source is a Stanford Graduate School of Business research paper from 2007 by David B. Montgomery and Catherine A. Ramus on “Including Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability, and Ethics in Calibrating MBA Job Preferences” (summary here).

The list of 10 reasons came in a one-day roundtable in Toronto of This Leadership Council, which set priorities for the Network for Business Sustainability. It included representatives of BC Hydro, Canadian Pacific, Environment Canada, Holcim Canada Ltd., the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Industry Canada, The Pembina Institute, Research In Motion Limited, SAP Canada Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., TD Bank Group, Teck, Telus, Tembec, and Unilever Canada Inc.

2 Comments On: Top 10 Reasons Canadian Companies Resist Sustainability

  • Ron Hartwell | June 14, 2011

    I think the average consumer would like to factor sustainability into their purchases, but in todays economy they are swayed to a greater degree by price. I know that 5 years ago price was not the consideration that it is today.
    Ron Hartwell
    http://www.therainwaterbarrel.com

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