What could drive the adoption of sustainable business practices pull or push?
The modern idea of sustainability may be attributed to The Brundtland Commission Report, which defined sustainable development as `development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ way back in 1987.However, global warming became a part of mainstream discussions after Al Gore’s documentary film, `An inconvenient truth’ won an Oscar. Over the last decade or so, `sustainability’ which encompasses environmental, social and economic sustainability has become one of the biggest buzzwords among the corporate circles. Last year’s research report published in MIT Sloan Management Review, based on the Boston Consulting Group’s study of global executives on sustainability and innovation, pointed out that nearly 70 per cent of companies rated sustainability issues as significant or highly significant but only 16 per cent reported to fully addressing these issues. The questions therefore are: how can more and more companies be made to adopt sustainable business practices in a sustainable way? How do they move beyond cause-driven, cost-driven, customer-driven approaches to the genuine move to minimise business impact on the environment and society? How many corporates actually create sustainable strategy, put it on top management agenda item, develop sustainability business cases, measure sustainability performance and change business models to address sustainability issues?
An examination of what is contributing so far in the adoption of sustainable business practice reveals two broad factors: `promotional pull’ and `push through pressure’.
Keyoor Purani is Professor of Marketing at IIM Kozhikode. Views expressed here are his personal views.