Sustainability Pledge: Walk The Talk

Sustainability Pledge: Walk The Talk

With a foot in both the academic and business worlds currently – I find myself intrigued that a lot of colleges/universities are taking such a lead in committing their facilities and community to new journeys in sustainability, while corporations are lagging way behind.   Some companies may be ramping up  marketing efforts, for certain, but what about the basics of first engaging the humans in their businesses with sustainability on a more personal level?   It goes beyond the recycling bin in the corner and the automatic lights in the restrooms.

Let’s learn from the many institutions of higher learning that have sustainability pledges, as they are all quite similar.  Harvard’s – which comes up first in a Google search, is a nice example.

Nothing too bold or scary here.  However, by putting such a list in front of your nose and occasionally glancing at it, you will – much more likely – stop and think a bit.  You may even start to change your own behavior.  Checklists are powerful stuff: Do you take the stairs as often as possible?  Do you unplug computers and turn off lights?  Do you walk, bike or take the subway more often than getting into a car or bus?

My question: Where are all the corporate sustainability pledges?

One check list-worthy point that strikes me as so obvious for corporate decision-makers is the concept of an organization-wide pledge to make video conference calls the first option for meetings that involve different sites.  Shouldn’t initial thought always be given to that, especially given this economic and environmental circumstance?  Of course, the  video quality may not be completely there – but it may well serve quite a few purposes well enough.  The intention is to just to ever-so slightly hinder the ease of turning to employee business travel options.  The bonus is that while such a “video conference or flight” check list point concerns energy and carbon footprint most immediately, it also concerns employee productivity and life/work balance.  Last I heard, sustainability-minded businesses actually need employees who aren’t burned out so they stick around awhile.

So, why not take a look at what the universities are doing with their pledge check lists?  Develop one for your corporation that covers everyone in the same ways – from the CEO/Chairman of the Board to managers, administrative staff and facilities workers.  Unite the whole organization around the cause and compete internally to improve your numbers (by decreasing flights, for one).

Savvy colleges are clearly seeing both the public relations and community engagement aspects of the sustainability pledge.  Can your company handle such a challenge?


Andrea writes exclusively for her blog, LearnedonWomen, and appears regularly on Vermont Public Radio.