Friday, November 11, 2011

Dr Sustainability is back. Again.

Every so often, Dr Sustainability pays me a visit. Her last visit was many months ago, which is not surprising as she is a real globetrotter, flitting from C-suite to C-Suite, educating and inspiring executives about all aspects of sustainability. Once again, Dr Sustainability answers the CSR Reporting Blog's readers' questions in her inimitable way, sharing pearls of wisdom that will benefit our grandchildren's grandchildren and their great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren. Here goes: 

Dear Dr Sustainability: Would you say that sustainability is a trend or is it here to stay?
Dear Trendy: I would say that it is a trend that is here to stay.

Dear Dr Sustainability: I really can't decide what to call my next Sustainability Report. My reporting team says it should be called "Sustainability Report" but I think that's too drab. I would rather call it: "Enhancing our Reputation while Reducing our Marketing Budget". What do you think?
Dear Reporter: In my experience, the name of your sustainability report is crucial. First impressions are important. Saving money on marketing is certainly an attractive proposition but why give your competition the heads up? Call it "Sustainability Report". That will fool everyone!

Dear Dr Sustainability: I was trying to complete the G4 survey for the revision of the GRI Reporting Framework but the questionnaire is very long. I found myself wondering that, by the time I complete the G4 survey, they will already be on to G5. Do you think that's a risk?
Dear Survey-freak: I understand this could be a problem but if you try to type with two fingers instead of one, it might just go a little faster. And look on the bright side. When G5 comes around, you won't have to add your input all over again.

Dear Dr Sustainability: I really wanted to attend the BSR conference this year but, due to budget limitations, I had to content myself with reading the session summaries and following tweets. The problem is that all the tweets seemed to be about Ofra Strauss. Do you think it's fair that one person should dominate a whole conference ?
Dear Jealous: Honey, if you think life is fair, it's not the BSR conference you should be attending. I suggest you try the 2nd Bergen Conference on the treatment of psychopathy.

Dear Dr Sustainability: Can you please help? What does IIRC stand for?
Dear Puzzled: Utopia

Dear Dr Sustainability: My company is starting a new sustainability program to reduce energy consumption while travelling to work. It is now prohibited to turn on the air conditioning in the car while driving. I think I will just stop taking my car to work and use my bicycle instead. Do you think this would be a problem?
Dear Air-conditioned: Of course this would be a problem. Do you want to clog up our cities with bike congestion? Do you want to have car manufacturers go out of business? Do you want to injure your knees while cycling and cause our medical insurance to sky-rocket? Cycling to work is an idea whose time has not come. My advice would be to buy a Nano car - they have Nano air-conditioning. It's the next best thing to cycling.

Dear Dr Sustainability: My boss says that sustainability reports are going out of fashion and the latest fad is to produce quarterly disclosures and post them on our website. Do you agree?
Dear Follower-of-fashion: A fad is a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time. I hardly think quarterly disclosures could yet be termed a fad. It's the great enthusiasm part that gives it away. Tell your boss that if he is looking to be fashionable, I hear Burberry is making a comeback. 

Dear Dr Sustainability: My 9 year old son has threatened to sue me if I don't use recycled washing powder to do the household laundry. I have checked at all the supermarkets in our town and I can't find biodegradable washing powder. Can you please advise?
Dear Parent: Tell you son to get a group of friends together and turn it into a class action. That way you can form a parents' support group and you won't feel so alone as you stand trial. 

Dear Dr Sustainablility: My cousin works as a Chief Executive on Wall Street and all the people campaigning in OccupyWallStreet are giving him one big headache. He told me that he won't get a bonus next year and he and his family have cancelled their vacation (Luxury Safari in Tanzania). I think it is right to campaign for greater economic equality, but why affect the lives of innocent people? Isn't there a way to reform Wall Street without affecting my cousin's bonus?

Dear Cousin: This is a very interesting point. Just think of the poor people in Tanzania whose tourist trade has plummeted due to cancelled vacations. How fair is that ? Perhaps you could use some sidewalk chalk to voice your opinion. Sidewalk chalk is the new Twitter. Perhaps you could invent a new hashtag: #owsbutleavebonusesalone. In any event, it's probably time to tell your cousin that his bonus is probably not the only thing that is going to be affected. It about time he started thinking of selling his yacht.

Dear Dr Sustainability: People are always making jokes about sustainability. It's as though sustainability weren't the most serious challenge mankind has ever had to face. It's as though we wouldn't all perish due to reckless consumption, raging poverty, mindless abuse of human rights, chronic water scarcity and lack of women in Boardrooms. How can I convince people that sustainability IS a serious issue?
Dear Joker: Put more women in Boardrooms

Thanks, Dr Sustainability for your awesome insights. Come back again soon. And bring ice cream.    

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices  Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website
   (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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