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Sustainability According to the Pros:

Inspiration from Werbach/Osdoba/Tuerff/Lawrence.

The best description for transparent companies I have ever heard came from Adam Werbach. Adam said “Companies are like your friends; they have flaws, and you know about those flaws, but you love them anyways.” This is the beauty of full transparency in one big glorious nutshell. The whole reason for a company to be transparent is to gain trust and respect from their consumers and stockholders. No trust, nor respect can be gained by a company that sneaks around telling lies to the people that feed them.

Every one of these guys believes that before a company can truly start being transparent, they have to completely dissolve any green-washing within the company. Some companies, however, don’t even know when they are green-washing. As Tuerff says “Some of these general claims are a result of lack of understanding about the technical, economic, political, and social aspects of air, water, waste, and energy policies.” For sustainability to be come common in the practices of companies in the US and worldwide, there needs to be a big shift in how the government educates these businesses and these businesses educate their employees. Companies need to know the difference between what is sustainable and sounds sustainable.

Advertisers can and should take on some of this education responsibility as well. According to Werbach, when dealing with clients advertisers should make sure that before better advertising, comes better products. Also, public relations consultants need to be advising CEO’s and brand managers to be open with the public about mistakes. Being transparent about screwing up is great for gaining positive public opinion, and once industry leaders start embracing this fact, then all the other guys below will see this and follow their lead. Changing big industry has to start from the top.

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