When I wrote my President’s Corner approximately one and a half years ago for the summer 2012 issue of BSL’s Newsletter, I shared with you my impressions back from the Rio + 20 Conference. I stated that businesses were more active and quicker than governments in implementing sustainable practices.
Since then a group of business leaders have created the B Team (www.bteam.org) applying the 50 + 20 recommendation to create a vision for sustainable business.
Last year, we have established a Green Team at BSL involving many stakeholders of our school including students, faculty, staff and the Academic Advisory Board. Values, vision and mission have been revised, and improvements in relation with sustainability are currently introduced at Business School Lausanne.
I think it is crucial for our planet that more managers become aware of the compatibility of sustainable practices and profitability, so that the current trend towards a more sustainable way of running business accelerates and becomes more general.
I encourage you to read the book of Jonathan T. Scott entitled “The Sustainable Business. Taking the First Steps Toward Understanding, Implementing and Managing Sustainability from a Cost/Profit Perspective”. It was a real pleasure for Katrin and me to have had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the author during the EFMD Conference in Brussels last June.
This book, published by Greenleaf Publishing, is based on findings from Walter R. Stahel, who was also present at the workshop. Stahel’s first discovery was that when a product is made from raw materials, three quarters of the cost come from energy and material, whereas when a product is made from recycled material the proportion is reversed. So, reusing, remanufacturing or recycling materials not only drastically reduces the impact on the environment, but also creates jobs.
The first step in the process is eliminating waste. This can have impressive results: by demanding its distributors that they reduce their packaging by 5 %, Wal-Mart is now saving $3.4 billion a year in waste disposal costs!
Lean management is also a key element in eliminating waste by focusing on what creates value for the customer. Plenty of other points (buildings, water, job security, inclusive business integrating the bottom of the pyramid – the 4 billion people living with a purchasing power under $1500 a year, etc.) are dealt with in this captivating book. A quotation on page 29 is a good summary of it: “The message to remember here is that sustainability is not about sacrifice. It’s about eliminating wasteful practices and replacing them with more cost-effective alternatives that make work easier, more enjoyable and less expensive”.
Hence our new mission: To provide a learning platform that enables individuals and organizations to thrive by creating viable solutions for our planet and its people.