Affecting Change in the Corporate World
A Guppies PerspectiveThere is an old saying, “you catch more flies with honey.” This especially applies in the US where we enjoy a representative democracy. While this political system moves slowly, it does move. Given the corporate sway on this political system, one could argue that influencing large corporations is as important as governments today. To that end I’ve prepared some points that might help my fellow environmentalists better influence a company like ours to accommodate a particular agenda:1. Corporations are publicly traded. Therefore any corporation you want to influence must show fiscal responsibility (aka profit). Find a way to make the connection between what a corporation sells or could sell and your particular agenda. I have developed several examples under the planning tools section of Cisco’s Efficiency Assurance Program that tie economics to CO2. In the case of global climate change, there are no better business cases out there for environmentalism than energy efficiency and brand recognition.2. Deliver your message in a professional manner. Professionals in any field are called that for a reason. They are either good at what they do or have been around long enough without making any career limiting mistakes. I hold the environmental community to the same standard. Spend the time to author a solid plan (mirroring a typical business plan format is a good start) that makes defensible claims on the cost of environmental impacts in current and/or future forms, then link it to the business in a meaningful way. If you’ve already done this and a Corporation doesn’t bite… guerilla tactics won’t help. Persistence and adaptation will. I have a Green collar today by picking small battles that can be won while marching towards a larger plan.3. Be Authentic. At one time you joined a group of people who shared your beliefs. Now that group has asked you to resort to spamming a company. Is this really why you joined the group? Are they still fighting for the same things you believe in? Or have they now become a big, corporate’esq machine? Stay true to who you are and what you believe. Instead of spamming, start a Greendimes.com for email or take the time to research what they’ve done and provide a thoughtful response or commentary. It could provoke a meaningful conversation that could actually effect a change in how they think or do business. Like Ghandi said “be the change you want to see in the world”.4. Commit to the long run. Global change is slow. You’re not going to change every corporate executive you present to no matter how strong your pitch. Accept that and move on to the next one. The good news is the younger generations (soon to be exec’s) are on their way up and will be more receptive to your message at some later date. While I agree with the estimations of much of the scientific community that there is little time, global realities remain.5. Market your success. Changing your mindset on Corporate greed, marketing and sales in general opens you up to use the same tools corporations have spent countless billions on developing. Thomas L. Freidman has written about this often, the individual has as much sway as the corporation these days. Web 2.0 is here and all the free training that comes along with it. There is no reason you can’t use these tools to reach large demographics at little cost. While the system sometimes moves slowly, it does move. Thanks for reading.