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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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About the Author
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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.
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.