The Time is Right Now

Sep 11, 2012 3:00 PM ET
Campaign: The New PR

Posted by John Friedman

Many including this author, believe that forward-thinking companies will integrate sustainability goals into their business models and will use their visions of sustainability to help define revenue-generating strategies. Certainly the recent implosion of financial markets around the world offers a clear and disturbing picture of what happens when people lose faith in the long-term viability of businesses and business models.

As globalization continues the expectation from suppliers and customers around the world will continue to drive market expectations. Despite the gains over many decades, anyone who advocates that business has “done enough” or “come far enough” is fundamentally arguing against keeping abreast of and meeting changing customer expectations, an argument that is at its core anti-capitalism. The principle that the “customer is always right” means that businesses must respond (and meet) what customers want and expect.

It may be idealistic but perhaps one day the majority of customers will recognize that it matters when they “vote with their purchases” by patronizing companies that make commitments to the planet, people, ethics and the like and then the successful companies will be those who have invested today to be in business tomorrow.  Rather than spending on media campaigns and political contributions, consumers will reward companies that engage in ethical practices, treat employees with dignity and respect, and serve as stewards of our finite natural resources. Governments can set the tone, offering things like tax incentives to encourage these investments but cannot substitute or compensate if the markets do not drive change.

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John Friedman, is an award-winning communications professional and recognized sustainability expert with more than 20 years of experience.

Friedman has served as both an external and internal sustainability leader, helping companies, ranging from small companies to leading global enterprises, turn their values into successful business models by integrating their environmental, social, and economic aspirations into their cultures and business practices. 

His insights on sustainability issues and strategy are a regular feature on Huffington Post.

Friedman authored the e-publication The New PR which outlines how companies must modify the way they communicate to meet stakeholders' changing expectations through five proven keys for developing programs that replace "spin" with transparency and unlock the full potential of a sustainability program to build reputational capital. Friedman is currently working on a new book Your Backyard Is My Front Yard.

He can be reached at, is @JohnFriedman on Twitter and can be connected on LinkedIn and Facebook