Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Thursday 8 November 2007

Walking the talk or just green washing?

One of the rules in communication is “never lie, never over state, never make promises you can’t deliver”. It always comes back at you like a boomerang. And you get the opposite of what you intended. I had to think of it when I saw the story of an international environmental organization claiming it is ‘walking the talk’ with its new green building for which the highest environmental standards will be used.

The story reminded me of this neighbor in my street. Unloading his car he proudly showed me the energy saving lamps he had bought. No more old fashioned lamps in his house. I should be happy with his contribution to combat climate change. Looking in his trunk, I saw he also had bought lights for his garden and an electric heater for his terrace. So I said: "I don’t think your electricity bill will be going down, most probably it will go up!"

The same for this 'leader in biodiversity conservation'. Of course you can integrate sustainability in all aspects of management. Not only in procurement or construction. Sustainable development in HRM could mean that staffs work more at home and come to the office regularly for meetings. This way you need less office space. Even less when you decentralize functions and post the various programs in different regional offices. You walk the talk when your organization grows, but you can manage with the same office space, and the same footprint. The publicity now only communicates that you are not a leader, but are doing the same green washing, you blame so many others for.

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