Can the concept of sustainability also be applied to corporate lobbying? Let me explain the concept of sustainability and what it means. I will then answer the question. Spoiler alert, the answer is “yes”.
What does the concept of sustainability mean?
In high school or college many of us were exposed to the ideals of environmentalism. Then we entered the work world, with goals for budgets, profits and career success and we wondered how these two competing thought processes could co-exist.
It turned out that they could under the name of sustainability. Sustainability grew in understanding to include not just environmental issues but also legal, regulatory and business issues which effect the very survival of the firm let alone its profitability.
Under the sustainability program umbrella, questions about waste reduction which could lead to significant cost savings and improved profitability were asked. Questions were asked on how to meet regulatory requirements so as to maximize efficiency and minimize costs and fines for non-compliancy. From a business perspective, sustainability asks if our fundamental market changes, can the business change to meet the new realities. One machinery manufacturer who was making descent profits realized that its market was going away in few years so it partnered with other firms in complimentary industries to expand its market into new areas.
Being in the supply chain / logistics arena, by definition, you are moving items on transportation and storing them in warehouses, both of which use a lot of energy. So I read and find conflicts between energy regulations, it users, its providers and the environmentalists all the time. The battle between the coal industry and environmentalists is not an easy issue to find common ground. But there are many issues that there is.
The Chemical Industry developed the “Responsible Care” initiative to develop standards of safe stewardship of its hazardous products. After 9-11, US Customs developed a voluntary import security program called C-TPAT to improve security. It was so well founded it has been copied in programs around the world.
The sustainable lobbying concept would say yes these are our own business interests but we are recognize there are important global and national interests. To make things sustainable common ground and working together is important. The passionate followers of a particular issue may not be won over, but people in general respond when their interests are considered. Getting people to work together is a powerful political force. It is goal of this to change the culture of partisan gridlock to one of sustainability of our government processes.
When sustainability was first gaining its toehold in the business world, it was a culture change corporations needed to get through. Because of its success, improving profitability while improving the companies’ environmental food print, these programs continued.
Starting to look at lobbying in a sustainable prism may begin to break down the barriers of the partisan divide and set goal where business can prosper in a country where broader goals are met. A successful process can lead to more business and greater profits.