CEOs must take the green lead

 WHAT is today's biggest leadership issue? Profits, corruption, jobs, governance or empowerment? 

They all demand toptier attention, but surely the biggest issue has to be the planet and thankfully it receives growing attention from business leaders. 

The environment is top of mind at many.companies, especially the major corporates. A big driver is sustainability reporting, which is now standard practice at many businesses. Carbon footprints are measured and so are water and energy consumption. Fuel, water and mains power are increasingly expensive so showing environmental sensitivity has become a winwin issue for corporate leaders. 

They can contain costs and show environmental leadership by reducing the drain on resources. It is still unusual for a CEO to demonstrate a.commitment to fuelcost reduction by driving to work in a hybrid, but leadership can be shown in other ways. Routeoptimisation tools cut kilometers travelled by the vehicle fleet. Local sourcing has similar effects, while often boosting procurement from a new generation of blackowned businesses. 

CAN MORE BE DONE?

 Of course, and a recent reminder came from an eminent leader. Pope Francis, in his Laudato Si encyclical, criticised capitalism for.compounding the threat to our environment and our drinking water. The Green Pope made a worldwide impact with his environmental statement. 

Perhaps this is a hint to other leaders, both political and business, that they will find themselves on the side of the angels if they take a similar stance. Whatever the motivation, the pontiff's pronouncements ensure that environmental issues remain on the leadership agenda. 

There is no doubt that protecting the planet is becoming urgent and leaders have to take responsibility. Today, many.companies have recycling and energyreduction champions at departmental and divisional level. Even greater momentum would be achieved if senior managers gave a personal lead on the need to reduce, reuse and recycle. They can take up the green mantle in many ways. They can set recycling and carbon emission targets, and make a point of inquiring about monthly recycling quantities and paper usage when reviewing performance. They can also make behavioural changes, because they know that people notice what the boss does. That's why some CEOs make a point of switching the lights off when leaving a room. This.communicates a strong message. 

It's clear the green CEO is starting to emerge. But is this a fad or a development that will.come increasingly to the fore? 

I believe the green theme will become more apparent as a new generation of managers takes over. 

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This article was published on the following:

The Witness 

CEOs

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