Someone once asked me. So… what’s the difference between what you’re doing (Corporate Environmental Management) and real business? I was a little peeved at the question.My answer was quite simple. I’m specializing. Same as there are specializations in marketing or finances etc… this is environmental management. What more do you want me to say?
But in reality, if I reflect a little more on the issue, it’s true.
Sustainable development = “Built to last” business
Business and sustainable development go hand in hand. If you want to build a company that lasts (i.e… a sustainable company) then perhaps you should think about risk management and future resource issues.
But after four years of business education, I can honestly say that they never really touched on this concept aside from a few optional geography classes and the one mandatory ethics class.
Put it this way: when engineers and doctors graduate they are reminded of the social duty bestowed upon them as professionals. So where’s the iron ring for business leaders? They can often be rewarded much more for their efforts, yet we don’t put them up to the same standard? Hmm…interesting.
I’m not saying that all businesses should have treehugger written all over them. I’m saying that all businesses should completely understand their social and environmental impact. Eco-efficiency is possible. It takes a bit more effort and a more holistic way at looking at the balance sheet, but being responsible and being profitable is the only way forward if we ever want to start fixing up some of the issues we have today.
Sustainable development will only happen in a capitalistic fashion and business education has to step it up to make this a reality. Not just in specialized masters programmes, but in the core curriculum.
Make money and be responsible. Who argues?
p.s. Jay – still thinking/writing on some better arguments on efficiency and conservation for the short and long term. Haven’t forgotten;) But yep, it’s a tricky challenge.