How Nike ran with the notion of environmental sustainability
Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, talking management for The Globe and Mail, speaks to [associate professor] Glen Dowell from the [Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management] at Cornell University.
Feb. 04, 2014 | The Globe and Mail
By: Karl Moore
KARL MOORE – This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, talking management for The Globe and Mail. Today, I am delighted to speak to [associate professor] Glen Dowell from the [Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management] at Cornell University.
Sustainability in organizations – what advice would you have for managers to have their organizations more environmentally sustainable?
GLEN DOWELL – I think too many organizations still approach sustainability as a separate issue, as: “We are going to have an environmental health and sustainability, or EHS, group,” or “We are going to have this as a separate group of people who think about this.”
But in order to really move organizations forward, it has to be something that is integrated into the very fabric of an organization and its strategy. It has to be something that is thought of at all levels, and then people take it as part of their jobs everywhere in the organization.
That makes it really, I think, a key example of organizational change. That is, really, the issue that managers need to think about is: What are the behavioural issues that I need to exemplify in my own work as a manager and that I want my employees to really take to heart and to really work on in order to move the organization forward?
So, it is not so much – you know, we all get enthralled by new technologies and how are we going to incorporate clean technology, and green or clean energy, into our day-to-day lives, but a lot of it is, as more of my research is showing, really the behavioural side. How do we nudge people to make better decisions day-to-day, either in the organization or in our own lives and in our homes? What are the things that can make us really take these things seriously and move forward?
So, for example, we have seen that organizations that can incorporate a little bit of the competitive nature in all of us into these sustainability challenges can make bigger strides. Organizations that approach sustainability in a way that is consistent with their core strategy and corporate culture – for example if you are a low-cost organization like Wal-Mart, you don’t try to do this in a really high-end, sexy, way. You try to figure out how to lower your costs even further, while being more sustainable, and that is where we have seen greater strides and more success.