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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an idea that corporations have to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all
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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : Nov/Dec 2006

Between Blue and Yellow

The Future of Change

Jeff Orloff
Associate Editor

Status quo.” Probably one of the most familiar terms from Latin origins that has carried over into present-day English. But the status quo seems to be fading away. Not necessarily from our vocabulary, but from how we view the future when it comes to energy.

  November marked the mid-term elections with a majority of incumbents facing challengers who propose a change in the way things are done. With oil and energy prices rising and environmental challenges growing, there are few issues that have sparked more disfavor with the status quo than those that center around energy. Where it comes from, how we use it and what its effects are on the environment have all become questions posed by society to our elected officials.

  Probably the greatest change taking place in this movement toward responsible energy use comes from large corporations, most notably the automobile industry. In this issue’s cover story, David Clayton Wells outlines how America’s addiction to foreign oil is sparking an industrial revolution for automobile manufacturers, with Ford Motor Company leading the charge in ways ranging from new developments for hybrid vehicles, to investing close to $10 billion for the development of alternative fuels.

Not to be outdone by the competition, General Motors has also been a catalyst for change in the way automobiles are fueled. GM’s new Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant has received a Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. To date, the building is the only automotive manufacturing plant in the world to receive any level of LEED certification. This milestone coupled with the company’s commitment to the development of hydrogen fuel cells—discussed on pages 16-17 in “Honoring the Commitment”—has shown that GM is making tremendous strides to shed the image that the Detroit auto industry is irresponsible when it comes to energy and the environment.

In a slightly different move, Ford Motor Company is also embracing social responsibility, but in the areas of health and economy. Through its “Advancing Women’s Leadership and Advocacy for AIDS Action” initiative, Ford will direct resources to global efforts that strengthen leadership by building the skills of women and other groups most affected by the disease. As Ford believes, the impact of AIDS can definitely be felt as an immediate shock—as when a family loses a breadwinner, or an organization a key worker—but at the wider community or national level, the impact is felt as the gradual accumulation of losses, and diminution of resources and options for change.

  In their book, Flight of the Buffalo, James Belasco and Ralph Stayer said: “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” The effort to understand what we, as a society, have to gain by stepping out of our comfort zone created by the status quo and embracing change is growing. As more and more industries assess the effectiveness of a greener business model, the future begins to look brighter.

Jeff Orloff
Associate Editor

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