This weekend's Globe held an issue of its always interesting Report on Business. An article on the importance of sustainability in the business world admitted that such a program can arise from either a desire to drive profits or a commitment to social responsibility.
Sustainability is defined in a variety of ways, but I see it as giving thought to, and applying action regarding issues of the environment, humanity, and finances (perhaps even in that order).
The profit driven model is fraught with pitfalls: how to please all customers with a set of commitments? Some customers, not at all concerned with environmental degradation, may balk at dealing with a company that spends millions on using less paper, switching to gentler toners, or encouraging working at home to reduce carbon footprints.
I would advise what I advise my own clients: to thine own self be true. Do not try to "please" every employer by trying to fit each employer's mold -- rather present yourself exactly as you are and find an employer who values people just like you. Much quicker path to the right door; much more sustainable action plan for the long run. (It is quite impossible to truly succeed if you find yourself -- a liberal-minded, go-with-the-flow person -- in a strict, we-don't-do-things-like-that-here company, or vice versa!)
A business should create its sustainability program according to its missions and values. Let like-minded customers become loyal and spread the word.
And what about New Leaf? I am committed to reducing my business and personal footprint on this earth (I use my printer for essentials only and there are days that the car doesn't budge), to support humanity with a variety of efforts (donating money and sharing time), and as for financial gains? If I aggressively sought profits at the expense of the environment and people, I wouldn't be happy.
You can't please everyone. But you have every right to live your life as fits your values. All the best in 2011!