A Diatribe: Engaging Conventional Business Thinkers with Sustainability - A blog by Andrea Learned

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A Diatribe: Engaging Conventional Business Thinkers with Sustainability - A blog by Andrea Learned

Andrea writes exclusively for her blog, LearnedonWomen, and appears regularly on Vermont Public Radio.
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A Diatribe: Engaging Conventional Business Thinkers with Sustainability http://3bl.me/ps6str


The 3BL Media blog roll is a select list of the most influential, respected, and authoritative voices in corporate social responsibility. Compiled from the 3BL Media staff’s extensive contacts with longtime CSR commentators, these bloggers offer relevant news, opinions, and ideas about all things CSR in one convenient place.   

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - 12:58pm


Sometimes the inevitable is just too hard to get to. Misguided assumptions, traditions and all sorts of randomness can get in the way of doing good business. In both the case of the women's market and now, the sustainable consumer market, plenty of decision-makers still hesitate to make the effort - even when it is clear that there is no turning back. Yet,having to serve those markets is... inevitable.

With that frustration in mind, I turned my attention to a new Catalyst study about engaging men in gender initiatives. And, there are parallels between gender and sustainability initiatives that are worth a look.
In fact, Catalyst's findings about the barriers to men's engagement with gender initiatives (similar to their barriers to engagement with marketing to women) look suspiciously like barriers to the engagement of conventional business thinkers with sustainability. Consider the following:
Myth: Sustainability is something that only matters to a few, Birkenstock-wearing, co-op shopping folks. So, give the pursuit of it a small budget and treat it like an "initiative." Then, you can safely say "we tried it," and stop funding it when it doesn't immediately succeed or make the company loads of money.
Reality: Just like a brand's approach to the women's market, sticking just a toe in the overflowing waters of sustainability is a big mistake. Sustainability has to be pursued as a long-term commitment, with very clear knowledge of the consumer values around it, or those many people now committing to change their buying ways will not buy your story at all.

Myth: Businesses have to go it alone and be "tough" (manly) to be successful. So, never let consumers or your competition see you sweat or stumble. 

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Keywords: Andrea Learned | Business | Communication | Consumers | Global | Green | Sustainability | Vermont | climate change | marketing