In CSRwire (the Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire) this week, David Wilcox opens his article about “real” sustainability with a quote from Ibukun Awosika, founder of the Chair Center, to an audience of young women at Harvard Business School: “You are all too comfortable to be dreaming” of sustainable solutions. It’s a poignant comment — a wake up call for those of us with hopes to change the world, but hold ourselves back by making decisions that keep us comfortable.
(Note: Awosika’s successful furniture company has established her as an expert in sustainable business, and she uses her success to speak internationally about ethical community-based business practices.)
Wilcox founded Reachscale to help align social responsibility goals of corporations with social entrepreneurs. In essence, he tries to connect the dreamers with the wanna-be leaders, breaking through the comfort zones that block innovation in organizations. His primary work focuses on global affordable housing and education initiatives. He’s part of the conscious capitalism movement, an idealistic and potentially powerful leadership trend to build “a triple bottom line,” developing any product or company based on the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.
Wilcox asks if those of us willing to dream outside the box are dreaming big enough. He writes about the importance of sustainable products, and the slow progress we’re making in sustainability innovation. He proposes three ideas to speed up the process and get us past the wall of comfortable assumptions:
1. Partner with on-the-ground innovation and sustainability leaders – those working in the environments that will suffer most from food and water security and climate change – to bring the reality of these issues to the forefront.
2. Gain a more global view of the challenges. IBM, Dow Corning, John Deere and many other companies are enabling their executives to volunteer in countries where their skills can solve a range of challenges. Choosing to focus talent on impactful sustainability solutions in Africa or Asia—where some of the worst outcomes of climate change will be seen—can open eyes about the global sustainability landscape.
3. Shift talent and resources to social enterprises that can scale and build partnerships that use company and NGO platforms to drive greater investment and scale. This leverages more company capabilities to create progress that is more impactful and opens up dialogues about sustainability innovation inside the organization.