Exploring the Sustainability ‘Gold Standard’

by | Mar 18, 2013

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On February 7, 2013 a group of true sustainability diehards braved the onslaught of Snowmageddon Toronto 2013 to explore ideas of how to define a Gold Standard for business under a vision for Capitalism 2.0. Led by author and sustainability change agent, Dr. Bob Willard, the TSSS local audience in Toronto and international audience via Livestream shared inspiring thoughts of what business could look like in a new era of capitalism.

Capitalism 1.0 has evolved from times of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, from business models where increasing shareholder profit is the very definition of business success. But this approach has led to indefensible income disparity, the exploitation of millions of people worldwide and ecosystem destruction; Capitalism 1.0 is the very definition of a system that is not sustainable. Its boom and bust cycles are destabilizing for people and societies, and, most significantly, it has led us down a path that is destroying the planet upon which our survival depends. A new economic model is needed, one that can not only enrich us, but also sustain us and our planet: Capitalism 2.0.

Capitalism 2.0 Will Demand that Companies Costs Be Internalized

As is often said, we must know from where we come in order to know where we are going. While Capitalism 1.0 has been defined by a profit-first bottom line, Capitalism 2.0 will be defined by a new vision that creates wealth, opportunity and satisfaction for the greatest number of people.  While Capitalism 1.0 has allowed companies to externalize environmental and social costs, Capitalism 2.0 will demand that companies internalize these costs.  While Capitalism 1.0 has been driven by the goal of maximizing shareholder value, Capitalism 2.0 will be driven by a commitment to creating shared stakeholder value for all stakeholders, including the environment.  But how will we get from Capitalism 1.0 to Capitalism 2.0?  Who will lead us from our misguided current path to a more promising future?

Our speaker began his presentation by presenting a number of different rankings of leading green or sustainable companies. But how are these rankings determined? Why are the top 10 companies as defined by Newsweek so different from the top 10 defined by Fortune, or by Corporate Knights? What are the criteria and key performance indicators? Willard then led us in a discussion of how we might define a corporate sustainability leader – one that will help us chart our new path to Capitalism 2.0.

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