It is hard to not be aware of the growing focus on sustainability. To be sustainable as a brand is a feel-good trend that is also good for business. The focus of sustainable business practices is to cause little or no damage to the environment, and therefore to be able to continue for a long time. This approach appeals to the younger generation as it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
It is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Extinction Rebellion, a group which originated in London held its first weeklong campaign for civil disobedience in Ireland this month. The intention was to cause disruption in order to pressurise the Government to do more to tackle climate change.
While many agree with the need for the shift in policies, that this causes, disruption to the business is somewhat frowned upon and not always welcomed.
And therein lies the rub.
As businesses we understand the economic benefit and brand reputation advantage for implementing positives that show our commitment to a more sustainable future, but the question needs to be asked, what pressures are you as a brand and a business in Ireland influencing on the business communities and societies that you operate in to be more sustainable?
It is an uncomfortable question.
On the apparent level, there is commitment to change. Following this through in all aspects of the businesses is a far greater commitment both commercially and reputationally. As they say, it’s a case of putting your money where your mouth is. Yet this is what will differentiate your business for the long term.
As shocking and as shameful as it is to have young teenage children having to be the advocates for sustainable change, and as well-meaning and peaceful as the Extinction Rebellion protests are, they are unlikely to succeed without the support and backing of big businesses.
It’s a challenging situation and there is no simple or easy solution. As a business and a brand by implementing and advocating for sustainability practices without following this through in all aspects of business, is merely posturing. This may work for the moment, however, it is unlikely to be tolerated over the long term. Your next generation of customers are very much focused on the long term.