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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : July/Aug 2002

 

Between Blue and Yellow
A New Chapter in History

by Katie Sosnowchik

DuPont’s doing it, as is Nike. So is Ford, GM, Dow Chemical, BP, International Paper, BASF, Coca Cola, Visteon, Toyota and UPS. These are just a few of the many diverse, global companies whose names immediately come to mind.

What these companies share is a mutual desire to transform their mega-corporations into models of sustainability. The advancements being made are due, in part, not only because of the vision of the chief executives who are leading these companies onward, but also because of the collective efforts of tens of thousands of employees who also recognize the significance—and potential—of each individual achievement.

“The challenge of sustainable growth is not a philosophical issue. It is a nuts-and-bolts business reality,” noted Chad Holliday, chairman and CEO of DuPont in a speech he made last year to the Chicago Executives Club. “We made it the primary objective of our company because we believe sustainable growth will be the common denominator of successful global companies in the 21st century.”

Many parties from both the private and public sector that are involved in the sustainable development arena are currently in the midst of preparations for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. They wonder, as does UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, whether the summit can produce an ambitious, but achievable program of practical steps to improve the lives of all human beings while protecting the global environment.

The issue, he says, is not environment versus development or ecology versus economy. “Contrary to popular beliefs, we can integrate the two,” he notes. In fact, he adds, he believes that, “In Johannesburg, we will have a chance to catch up. Together we will need to find our way toward a greater sense of mutual responsibility. Together, we will need to build a new ethic of global stewardship. Together we can and must write a new and hopeful chapter in natural—and human—history.”

As the business reality that Holliday cited in his speech increasingly finds a more secure and permanent home in corporations here and abroad, perhaps then we will see the multitudinous results that come when accomplishments are both plentiful and extensive. Companies like those listed above will help write not just a new chapter in history, but a whole new epic brimming with real-life narratives of what global stewardship is truly all about.

“Our final score cards will not be determined by talks in great halls, but by real results measured both in small steps and in major leaps,” Holliday said that day in Chicago. “Results that our shareholders and our customers value—and which help societies around the world prosper—will be the measure of our success.”

And, in the end, the results from which history will judge us all.


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