Newsweek recently came out with their list of the top 500 Green U.S. companies. It’s an interesting list and a good start at a public scorecard that investors, consumers, potential employees, and others can use to see who is really doing what about their environmental impact.
I would like to know more about the methodology as I wrote on the International Institute of Analytics blog (actually, I’d like people who are a lot more adept at analyzing methodologies to take a look and report on the good, the bad, and the ugly).
A larger issue is that our environmental challenges won’t be met one firm at a time and firm-to-firm comparison is only one view: we have to look at our overall progress toward the ultimate goal. Climate change, to pick one, is a system problem the solution to which will require system-wide collaboration and cooperation. Companies that are pushing the sustainability issue deep into their supply chains are creating a vertical system response. Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index is a great example of this. If, as they say they hope, other retailers adopt the index it will become a catalyst for a true system response. Kate Winkler, EMC’s thoughtful Chief Sustainability Officer, said: “we need to remember that – at least for most companies – these rankings are only indicators; they are not goals in and of themselves. Because at the end of the day, what’s going to matter is how good a job the entire set of companies is doing as a group to transform to a low-carbon, cradle-to-cradle world.”
The U.S. has a great history of individualism. We love the image of the lone sheriff taking on a bunch of bad guys and saving the town. We canonized a generation of celebrity CEOs. A big chunk of the pushback to health care reform is based on fear that it will impinge upon individual choice. However, as anyone who has read much Shakespeare has learned, one’s greatest strength in one circumstance is often one’s greatest weakness in another. We need to find new ways to collaborate and coordinate our green efforts — and that’s part of what I’m out to do.