Guest Post: Top 5 Sustainability Trends for 2012

Feb 17, 2012 10:30 AM ET

Posted by Matthew Rochte

More than a coincidental number of people have asked me in the past couple of weeks as to what I am seeing as trends in the sustainability arena, a top 5 trends of 2012, so to speak.  So, here is what I’m seeing this year.

1) Companies are overwhelmed.
2012 continues with a depressed economy with high unemployment, tight budgets, and a great deal of uncertainty.  The rules of business of business keep changing.  Then adding to this uncertainty and over whelm is a rise of new stakeholders who are on the move and actively seeking change.   James Epstein-Reeves in his recent blog post on the Pain of Sustainability speaks to this quite well.  Pressure is no longer coming from one or two directions; it is coming in from all directions and on business elements that have never been touched or effected before.  People are upset with the status quo and are voicing their opinion with the media, with their feet, and with their shareholder proposals.  See #2 and #3.

2) It is all about trust and rebuilding trust.
Trust is fragile and Edelman’s 2012 annual Trust Barometer should be a wake-up call to all business.  Trust in business and governments remains low and continues to drop. The Arab Spring last year, the growth of Occupy Wall Street, and the ever-presence of social media have created new paradigms in communication evoking change in systems, countries, companies, and brands. Building trust or rebuilding it, as the case may be, needs to be more than merely what you can do, it needs to be about who you are while you are doing it as well as your consistency while doing it. Edelman, in their annual report from the field, talks about the path forward being more than just a business’ license to operate – it is about developing a license to lead.

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About the author:

At the forefront of the “Green Business” movement, Matthew Rochte began practicing, researching, and presenting on the subject in 1994. He brings to the Do Well Do Good team an extensive background in CSR business management practice, consulting, executive coaching, facilitation, strategic planning, training, web development, and community leadership experience. In addition, as a former operations director and part owner of a green-oriented manufacturing company, he provides hands-on experience in triple-bottom-line business leadership from employee engagement to supply chain.

Rolling out sustainability and corporate responsibility programs require systems thinking, broad concept integration, and community building which are three of his key strengths. Matthew is passionate about conveying that sustainability and corporate responsibility are fundamentally about smart business. He asserts they are most effective when they create value through inspired employees, cost reductions, strategic advantage, and increased sales.  To Matthew, sustainability is about purpose, passion, and profit.

Matthew has worked with non-profit & for-profit executives and business teams; embedded CSR and sustainability into the cultures of manufacturing to service industry businesses; and facilitated global strategy teams and international ethics projects. In addition to his consulting and facilitation experience, he brings 20 years of executive leadership coaching, including six years on the Ethics and Standards Committee for the International Coach Federation, and has served as president of the Minnesota Coaches Association. Matthew is also a LEED AP BD+C (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Accredited Professional) and is pursuing the BO+M (Building Operations +Management) designation.

As an explorer and thought leader, Matthew continues to seek out new sustainability opportunities in smart business and writes and speaks on them. He is a Top 10 #CSR tweeter & Top 25 #Sustainability tweeter and can be followed at @mrochte.