Corporate Citizenship

What should we be saying about sustainability?

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Corporate Citizenship
10th December, 2012, 2:32 pm

Blog by Kirsty Ewing (Intern)

In the week following Hurricane Sandy, Florida resident Ken Mampel glued himself to Wikipedia. His mission was to make sure that no mention of climate change or global warming appeared on the page.

In July 2012, American entrepreneur Russ George dumped more than 100 tons of iron sulfate into the Pacific ocean in an act of vigilante geoengineering.

Climate change clearly provokes strong reactions. Yet sometimes it seems that, for the majority in the States, it provokes no reaction at all. For many, emissions and sustainability have been peripheral subjects over which hippies and deniers wage war. However with Sandy and the recent election, climate change has crept onto the nation’s radar (and students are trying to push it on to the political agenda).

This newfound attention seems to highlight a divide between the “initiated” and the general public. Many people still perceive sustainability as simply – reduce, reuse, recycle.  Their view is framed by messages like An Inconvient Truth, which shocked the public into believing sustainability and global warming are all doom and gloom.

It’s true that climate change is scary, but I question whether fear tactics are the appropriate way to drive action. If fear and an overly-simplistic definition of sustainability have not resonated with a wider audience, perhaps a new tactic is required.

Maybe it’s time to focus on the exciting innovations it also inspires. Action and progress are far more inspiring than warnings and ultimatums. It is so important that companies, universities, and non-profit organisations communicate their good work. Sustainability communication must keep up with sustainability innovation.

In an effort to keep up with innovation, Coca-Cola is trying its hand at publishing. Their recently-launched company website, “Coca-Cola Journey“, is a digital magazine. While the website is undeniably in line with their corporate agenda, content is also interesting and varied (they even publish mild criticism of their own site). The scope of Coca-Cola’s operations provides content to fill this ambitious platform, and it will be interesting to see how it grows in the future.

Will Coke enjoy the success of Red Bull Media House, American Express Open Forum, or Springwise? Are more companies likely to adopt this style of communication? What do you think?


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