The Sustainable Business Headlines We Didn’t See In 2010 #3pVOTE

This post is part of our year-end “year in review” sustainable business writing contest. We’ve asked 3p readers to submit their own thoughts about the state of sustainable business in 2010. More information about the contest is available here. All submitted articles will be available on this page. Voting will happen in January!

Death of Marat - JL David
No revolution here! Far from being mortally wounded, capitalism is alive and well.

By Nancy Roberts, Green MBA, co-Founder, The Idea Hive

Wishful thinking or manifesting destiny?  Here are three sustainable business stories we didn’t see in 2010:

Obama Calls for Steady-State Economy, Rejects Mantra of Growth; Feds To Adopt Gross National Happiness as Key Progress Indicator

Reports of the death of capitalism have turned out to be greatly exaggerated, for better and for worse. In 2008-2009, a flurry of articles pointed to the collapse of a fatally flawed global financial system, and called for the next great economic framework.  Some of us hunkered down, waiting for the revolution. Now, two years after the implosion of the housing market and major financial institutions and an intense global recession, we seem to be back on the same old track: traditional industries that desperately needed to change have been bailed out, Wall Street is in “comfortable” territory, as are Wall Street bonuses, and politicians of all stripes are calling for policies to encourage growth as the only solution to unemployment and economic challenges.  Businesses are still moving, cautiously, but true progress towards a system that acknowledges the limitations to growth in a closed system continues to elude most enterprises.

Google Employees Strike When Company Tanning Salon Hours Reduced
In an economy where workers are lucky to have a job at all, where higher and higher percentages of healthcare costs are borne by employees, and retirement benefits are under the knife, there is a small island of insanity in Silicon Valley, as titans like Facebook and Google struggle to hold on to the wunderkinds who help us find stuff and people online. Feeling pressured by a legal decision in October that put and end to a quiet SiliValley ‘no poaching” compact, tech giants are going all out to attract and retain a certain class of ‘best and brightest.’ All 23,000 Google employees will get a 10% raise starting January 1, in addition to a $1,000 “tax free” holiday bonus this month. No, there’s no onsite tanning salon (yet), but the pay and benefits bestowed on this tiny percentage of hardworking but not that exceptional people is a mirror of the inequitable distribution of wealth in the country as a whole. Conclusion? Get educated (in a particular way) and be in the right place and generation at the right time.

Lehman Brothers Head: “If Only We Had Required Thorough Corporate Sustainability Reports”
Leaders today ignore their business’s impact on people and planet at their peril. Corporate Social Responsibility reporting was a news grabber in 2010 (right, BP?), notably for increased calls for integrating social and environmental metrics into standard corporate financial reports rather than sequestering attainments in environment and governance in a separate CSR ghetto. The need for risk management, coupled with investor pressure from some quarters, may be leading to an increase in sustainability reporting. The Global Reporting Initiative has made a particularly strong showing this year, opening a New York office and launching partnerships with the Carbon Disclosure Project, the UN Global Compact and the OECD to advance sustainability reporting among enterprises (corporations, NGOs and governments) at all levels.  While CSR reporting is not a panacea, any progress towards both transparency and ethical boundary judgments is a good thing.
Headlines We’d Like To See in 2011:

World Business Council on Sustainable Development Disbanded as Corporations Achieve Perfect Balance of Triple Bottom Line Functioning

Hottest Executive App of the Year: the iGive, Philanthropy Dashboard for Busy CEOs

Newest Entry to Exec Toy Market — the iTake — Tanks

U of Chicago MBA Program Abolishes Grades, Institutes “Pay What You Can” Policy; Adds Required Courses in Sustainability & Systems Thinking

Donald Trump Begs Ray Anderson for Advice on Greening and Good Business

Reverend Billy Named CEO of Halliburton: Changes Expected

Sarah Palin Confronted by Angry Polar Bears, Admits They’ve Got a Point

Here’s to change in 2011! What headline would you most like to see?

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