With the easing of environmental regulations in the offing, business must show restraint and farsightedness as it never has before.
I’ve always subscribed to the theory that neither business nor government is a superior problem-solver. Some issues are best addressed by the market; others by the public sector. Even in the wake of President Trump’s decision to walk the United States away from the Paris climate accord, I believe environmental protection is a problem best led by government. And government, even within the U.S., can still do so.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that business needs to show leadership in sustainability as it never has before. As regulations and guidelines loosen, some organizations may give in to the temptation to let profit motives soften their own environmental policies — or turn a blind eye to how their partners are acting. Of course, to do so would be shortsighted, and not only for the most obvious reasons. Yes, any moves away from protecting our planet only further endanger the health — indeed, the lives — of our children and grandchildren, but such actions also often contradict the organization’s own best interests. Sustainable business practices are good for the bottom line. But as we continue to let short-term returns blind us to the impacts of our decisions even in the medium-term, the financial value of environmental responsibility remains dangerously underappreciated and misunderstood.
Sustainability has been a core topic of interest at MIT Sloan Management Review for many years. And we are affirming that commitment. At this time, when business leaders need to stand up and clearly demonstrate their intent to help mitigate further human impacts on our climate, MIT SMR will do our best to help.
Watch this space.