Director, Policy and Strategy
Green Innovations Inc.
Tel & fax: +61 3 9486 4799
|Revised 31 May 2000
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by Philip Sutton.
In environmental management circles, it is often said that it's not worth making an effort to pursue major or radical improvements in environmental performance unless the CEO (senior management team, Board etc.) is prepared to drive the change.
But currently there are not many CEOs willing to drive sustainability-orientated programs. So where does this advice leave us? The answer is: with not many companies trying to do anything!
Greg Bourne, CEO of BP Amoco (Australia and New Zealand), says that not many CEOs suddenly get the inspiration to be environmental champions all by themselves. He believes the influence of other people (eg. subordinates and people outside the firm) is critical to them realising that such a commitment is necessary. This was certainly the case with Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface, who is now arguably one of the world's most committed CEOs to the cause of pursuing ecological sustainability through the the mainstream activities of his business.
Since no person is an island, I would suggest that virtually all the CEOs that have turned on to the need for their firms to promote the achievement of ecological sustainability have done so because of the influence of others.
So if the influence of others is critical to CEO commitment, and the commitment of organisations is critically determined by the level of CEO commitment then we end up with a "bottom-up / top-down / outside-in" model of corporate change, not just the one-way model implicit in the idea that "if the CEOs not on-side, don't bother."
This more comprehensive model is summarised in the diagram below.