For my dayjob, I help companies find ways to use environmental and social good as levers for business growth. This is highly gratifying work, but it isn't always the easiest conversation to start... Until recently, many companies have framed their global citizenship programs as ways to "give back" or "do less bad." Meanwhile, William McDonough and others have noted that the real innovation and profit comes from finding ways to be "all good" and weaving eco and social responsibility into a company's primary business DNA.
Since it adds fuel to the fire, it's gratifying to see BusinessWeek take on this very topic in today's cover story "Beyond the Green Corporation." The article includes a lot of great examples of what traditional companies like Unilever, GE, Wal-Mart, and Philips are doing—as well as an honest account of why high-profile sustainability programs at Ford and BP have failed to deliver. I also liked the stats suggesting how social responsibility, not just environmental sustainabilty, can impact the bottom line:
"New York's Communications Consulting Worldwide (CCW), which studies issues such as reputation, puts it in stark dollars and cents. CCW calculates that if Wal-Mart had a reputation like that of rival Target Corp. (TGT ), its stock would be worth 8.4% more, adding $16 billion in market capitalization."