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Global Sustainability: 21 Leading CEOs Show How to Do Well by Doing Good Hardcover – January 24, 2017
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Clear and concise, Global Sustainability, with examples drawn from the corporate world, functions as a manual for large-scale business sustainability.
Though it does deal with ecological sustainability, this book tackles sustainability in every sense, encompassing community economics, employee ownership, and public image. The author has done a fine job lining up high-profile business types, including Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines and Walter Robb of Whole Foods, to deliver advice for the aspiring sustainable business. The message is that sustainable business is not only possible, but preferable and profitable.
The approach is practical to the extreme, even to the point of nearly ignoring the usual ethically and morally high-minded reasons for engaging in sustainability. This turns out to be its most significant strength, and in itself may represent an innovation in the climate-change and social-responsibility discussions as far as the business world is concerned.
The author presents many solid old arguments in fresh, convincing ways. Several hinge on aspects of the modern world that would not have made sense twenty years ago, such as the existence of the Internet. Additionally, the book avoids politics altogether. It covers solely the business world and proposes that business is powerful enough―and self-interested enough―to change the world for its own good. Takeaway summary points at the end of each brief chapter represent reliable shorthand for businesspeople who find themselves without the calendar space to devote to an overly philosophical or academic look at sustainability in business. This is a book from an author who both knows whom he is talking to and who speaks their language fluently.
In general, Global Sustainability is likelier to be useful to experienced, established businesses, especially large ones, than to small startups. Within large companies, this book should be considered required reading.
ANNA CALL (March 2, 2017) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Mark Lefko has coached and mentored more than 100 CEOs and company presidents, bringing with him 35 years of real-world C-level business experience. A thought leader in the fields of sustainability and leadership, Lefko serves on several advisory boards and is known for his high-energy, insightful speaking engagements. As the Founder and CEO of Lefko Group, one of the nation’s leading facilitation firms, he has led countless strategic planning retreats, corporate think tanks, roundtables and peer groups. “Global Sustainability,” Mark’s second book, aims to inspire executives to rally around the concept of doing well while doing good. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at www.marklefko.com
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Can big business so often seen as part of the problem, really become part of the solution? Well, the surprising and uplifing answer according to “Global Sustainability” is Yes. Mark Lefko the author provides an enjoyable readable, roadmap to how company leaders can set the strategy and tone for making large-scale sustainable transformation.
This book is both an easy, inspiring quick read a busy CEO can take on the next airplane ride or commute and a detailed reference work to inspire teams to come up with innovative ways of making their company and business model sustainable.
So, just what is Global Sustainability anyway? Helpfully, it is defined right at the start as “ensuring all people on this planet have the resources and environment necessary for them to survive, both now and in the future.”The book sets 9 best practices that a leader can use to get there company there and in line with achieving the Sustainability Goals set out by the UN for 2030.
The key seems to be how much the company CEO “get’s it” and goes to bat for change. A real hero that emerges from the narrative is Paul Polman, CEO of giant conglomerate Unilever, which has strongly positioned itself as a purpose-driven company. This is an eye-opener, particularly the fact that quarterly reporting has been abolished in order to re-focus the company on long-term, sustainable growth for all stakeholders. Another nice example is the coalition Unilever formed with Coke, Pepsi and Nestle to change retail cooling technologies in stores to reduce CO2 emissions. Readng this over lunch I started to feel a lot more hopeful about the state of the world.
Virgin’s Richard Branson also is contributing to sustainable fishing practices in the Caribbean which is rebuilding endangered seafood populations. There is a good cross-section of industries represented from mining to technology to provide relatable inspiration for all types of corporations.
The book is set out in 10 clear chapters with review points at the end of section of the key takeaways. Perfect for reviewing and putting on a slide before a company presentation. I would have liked a bit more discussion on how these major change in diverse companies were actually communicated and embedded in the teams and staff at the frontline of the organisation. But perhaps that is material for a follow up.
A particularly heartening exanple is how far software giant Salesforce.com has gone to engraining sustainable, enlightened principles in their DNA by adjusting all female employees salaries to parity with male workers.
Another unlikely example of where sustainable thinking is working comes from the luxury goods sector where the CEO of Kering parent of Boucheron, Gucci, PUMA and more are investing in non-toxic alternative processes for manufacturing. Pleased to see sustainable thinking is even touching this sector.
Boards and company CEOs will be particularly cheered that “doing good” uncovers and opens up new profitable business opportunities. In the chapter on creatively reducing waste. Loved the fact that methane waste from mining is now being captured not only to improve air-quality but to provide enough sellable fuel to power an entire town. A ski resorts water run-off is being repurposed to provide hydro-eletric power. A great antidote to apathy and we have “always done-it-this-way attitudes”This kind of smart, can-do resourceful thinking is great to put into a team exercise at a corporate offsite meeting.
This book shows that in contrast to the relentless drumbeat of negative headline news a committed company leader can roll up their sleeves and create real positive change and legacy. The very good news is that they can build massive goodwill capital and more financial capital and profit by making smart, ethical choices. To paraphrase the conclusion the best time to start doing that, is right now.
Mark has given us a powerful challenge for the 21st Century – help make the planet sustainable. Most of us know the phrase, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Many of us occasionally wonder if how we are “acting locally” has helped. Mark describes how these amazing difference makers are doing exactly that. By engineering their businesses to act in a sustainable fashion, they are making changes that positively impact the world.
The 21 leaders that Mark has interviewed give us powerful lessons that we too can apply in our own backyard. They are encouraging all of us to join them in small and large ways to be more aware of our planetary impact, and help everyone in the process. Thank you Mark, and thank you brilliant leaders who care about our world.