Organic. Natural. Eco-friendly. Fair trade. Locally grown.
Facing a deluge of green messages, today’s consumer is at worst cynical and hyperaware at best. Consumers have awoken to the trend of corporate greenwashing and are quick to catch on to inconsistencies in sustainability messaging.
Companies with such schizophrenic messaging put their reputations at risk. In today’s marketplace, reputational risk quickly transforms into business risk.
If you think all of the sustainability messages your company is sending come from your marketing department, think again. Other parts of your business are likely also sending messages to the marketplace on sustainability, perhaps without even being aware of it. This chorus (or cacophony) of messages can have a critical impact on your company’s reputation.
Over the next three weeks, this series will explore the ways in which companies may unwittingly send inconsistent messages to investors, customers and the marketplace on sustainability. If that gets you thinking about your own company’s messaging, stay tuned. The series will end with a checklist of considerations that’ll help you think about how to minimize reputational risk and maximize sustainability investments.
Money talks -- so put your money where your mouth is
Companies pay a lot of attention to how much they are spending. But very often, corporate leaders may not consider where and how they are spending their money -- and what messages that spending might be sending on their sustainability stance.
Procurement & Supply Chain
Where and how a company "shops" can speak volumes about how much it values sustainability. One way in which companies can slur their commitment to sustainability is by ignoring their supply chains. While this old news, please take note: If you are looking at your company’s environmental footprint, you have to cast your eye beyond your own offices, grounds and operations.
You also have to look at how you are sourcing your products and materials. As Chiquita and Dole (two of the world’s largest fruit producers) found out, consumers don’t want to buy organic bananas that are shipped around using highly polluting tar sands oil. They were bombarded with consumer petitions, and were the target of protests at stores. Both companies committed to phasing out use of diesel sourced from tar sands oil last year.
Engaging with your company’s supply chain managers and procurement officers regarding sustainability goals is a critical step to internal alignment and making sure you aren’t sending mixed messages to customers.
Next page: Schizophrenic communication through lobbying, funding think tanks