4 Qualities to Protect the Environment
“When sustainability is viewed as being a matter of survival for your business, I believe you can create massive change.” — Cameron Sinclair
Many companies are criticized for greenwashing, when they spend more time and money claiming to be “green” through their marketing efforts than actually implementing business practices that minimize their environmental impact. But those that are truly committed to protecting the environment demonstrate a few key common qualities.
In our modern world, where a significant number of people are expressing deep concerns about the environment, it makes sense for business leaders to take a hard look at the environmental impact of their business. Simply presenting a positive public image on this topic is no longer enough.
Companies that are serious about environmental stewardship make it a priority across every part of their operation.
This topic has become so important that many companies now produce an annual Corporate Sustainability Report, outlining not only their environmental strategies but also key environmental metrics and milestones on what the company has achieved.
Not surprisingly, we find a more prominent focus on the environment in certain industries.
Environmentally Focused Companies?
Many companies in the oil & gas industry make at least one of their core values dedicated to the environment. Why? Because the very nature of their business has a direct impact upon the environment.
Consider the following list of companies that claim the environment as a core value, and the different way each one references it:
- Apache: Environmental responsibility
- Chesapeake Energy: Commitment to environmental excellence
- Enbridge Energy Partners: Supporting the environment
- Halliburton: Environmental leadership
- Marathon Oil: Environmental stewards
- Spectra Energy: Stewardship
- Valero Energy: Commitment to the environment
- Xcel Energy: Protect the environment
Now, some might feel that including the environment as a core value is just being political, or in response to public pressure. But many of these companies claim they are simply trying to be responsible stewards of their assets and minimize the impact on the environment.
Regardless of the reason, or level of importance placed on this topic, environmentalists are definitely monitoring these companies closely. And for good reason. No one wants another oil spill like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
So what qualities are required to truly be environmentally focused?
Key Qualities to Protect the Environment
Consider the values definitions of the following companies regarding environmental stewardship:
- Apache: We derive benefit from the Earth and take our environmental responsibility seriously.
- CMS Energy: We take pride in protecting precious natural resources including water, land and air.
- Enbridge Energy Partners: a) Consider the potential short and long term environmental impacts before proceeding with any activity; and b) Consistently strive towards a neutral footprint on the environment.
- Marathon Oil: We responsibly grow and improve our business by effectively applying leading technologies, training and processes to minimize our environmental impact.
- Spectra Energy: Demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility and vibrant communities.
A careful assessment of these definitions (and others) suggest that anyone – or any company – that truly cares about the environment will possess the following four qualities:
- Be responsible
- Assess impact before acting
- Take pride in decisions made
- Be committed to continuous improvement
Imagine the impact if a company used these four qualities as a benchmark when hiring new staff. Over time, a team of people with these qualities would create significant competitive advantage.
And there would be no mention of greenwashing.
What companies do you believe are making a significant positive difference to the environment?