More Things Considered
More Things Considered
Our tiny provocation is that the word “sustainability” is not sustainable. Just using it is sabotaging our efforts to build a better future for the planet. Despite decades of global sustainability discourse, the world is still going to hell. What's gone wrong? Our paper is about willful ignorance and complicity at a global scale; the benefits of small talk; and a better, more effective word than sustainability.
Article citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings pp 300–321, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...
by MELISSA GREGG, Intel
In the spring of 2019 I met Klara, a fashion blogger based in Malmö with a growing reputation in sustainable design. Klara was a classic millennial of the type I had been studying for years: ambitious, anxious, confident and concerned about her future job security. In the course of a long interview about her laptop routines, she worried about depending so much on devices. She was one of several participants in different parts of the world who were cynical about tech companies’ constant push to sell new products. She had high standards for quality, but didn’t think there were enough products available that focused on sustainability. Rather than feel guilty about buying something that compromised her brand, Klara was considering making her next computer purchase second-hand.
Several months later, the research complete and the presentations over, I am listening to another young woman from Sweden, Greta Thunberg. “This is all wrong,” she was saying on stage at the United Nations Climate Summit: “I shouldn’t...
MARIA FLÁVIA BASTOS
UNA, Campus Liberdade & Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil
Teachers College, Columbia University & Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil
ARMINDO DOS SANTOS DE SOUSA TEODOSIO
Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil
Social businesses are organizations aimed at addressing social problems through business and marketing strategies. Of particular concern are issues connected to poverty, social inclusion among emerging consumers and sustainable development (Travagline, Bandini, Mancinione, 2009; Márquez et al. 2010). However, due to its hybrid nature that pulls from different sectors, the notion of social businesses is generating significant debate among scholars and practitioners regarding its purpose, approaches, and identity. In an effort to shine a light on how the concept of social business is developing and playing out in a particular city in South America, this study examines the ecosystem...
by MIKE YOUNGBLOOD, The Youngblood Group
Introduction to the Sustainability & Ethnography in Business Series, Mike Youngblood, Editor
Sustainability—we’re hearing this word a lot these days, even in business (if not, depressingly, in Trump Tower). It’s probably something readers of this post all generally support, and it’s definitely something we’re all connected to in one way or another. Whether we work in tech, consumer goods, education, government, or any other field, it’s pretty easy to see how the products, services, and organizations we serve affect larger social and environmental issues.
For most of us in the EPIC community, however, sustainability isn’t in our job descriptions. So how should we understand and act on this issue? What are our perspectives, capabilities, opportunities, and responsibilities with respect to sustainability? Are we actively addressing sustainability in our work, or is it properly “someone else’s job?”
This post introduces an EPIC discussion on sustainability. Over...
by MELEA PRESS, Hanken School of Economics
At the recent climate talks in Paris, 195 countries adopted a universal climate deal for the first time ever, key parts of which are legally binding. This is a stunning success and highlights how urgently the world’s nations, backed by their citizens and businesses, are seeking new ways to thrive while also addressing the challenges of climate change. As they strive to reach emissions targets over the next 15 years, organizations will also gradually realize that sustainability is no longer a trendy choice or moral imperative, but a reality in need of focused, persistent attention—and a good roadmap. Organizations must integrate sustainability into every strategic plan and action, yet few know how to turn the global goals of climate change mitigation into the kinds of activities they report to stakeholders.
At first, developing a sustainability plan may seem an easy task. There are numerous books and articles about the business case for sustainability, as well as inspirational memoirs,...
by ED LIEBOW, American Anthropological Association & EMILIE HITCH, Rabbit; EPIC2016 Papers Committee, Ethnography/CSR Curators
Business interests often claim that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is ‘the right thing to do’ and that acting responsibly is ‘good for business.’ Multinational firms have come together to create international conventions and business associations that establish and abide by audit standards for fair wages, safe working conditions, and they support the development and maintenance of public facilities and services necessitated by the additional local demands created by local operations. Out of an enlightened sense of self-interest, small and medium-size enterprises may also look out for their employees and suppliers, invest in their communities, protect the environment, and pave the way for a sustainable future.
Yet many skeptics place firms’ CSR activities in a broader historical and cultural context, and argue that these firms have prospered greatly in lax compliance regimes, where they...
J.A. ENGLISH-LUECK and MIRIAM LUECK AVERY
In 2012, the Google Innovation Lab for Food Experiences convened a multi-year conversation between corporate food stakeholders, farmers, chefs, food experts, social scientists and business consultants to reimagine the impact of companies on their employees and the food system. Corporate care increasingly includes food. Food origins and preparations create impacts well beyond the corporate cafe, reaching into fields and families. In the project, Farms to Firms to Families, university-based anthropologists joined with the Institute for the Future to develop a Northern Californian case study on the implications of corporate care across the food system. Ethnographic observations and interviews of people in that system yielded a portrait of cultural values, schema for social change, and diverse practices. We then transformed ethnographic observations into alternative future scenarios, which could help participants in the Google Innovation Lab for Food Experiences, as well as a wider community of...
In an expanding global economy, the notion of ‘transparency’ has gained increasing currency as an organizational goal. In a wide variety of situations, increased transparency is held up as a preferred point of direction for organizations, public as well as private. The notion of transparency implies visibility, possibilities for seeing through, for seeing, and being been. It carries hopes for more just procedures and open decision making processes. It suggests higher degrees of clarity, rationality and accountability. Transparency, then, is an entry-point to the understanding of contemporary society and culture and the visions and challenges that are attached to it.
The placing of transparency on the corporate agenda is evinced in the creation of corporate codes of conduct and standards for corporate social accountability. Through workshops, training sessions and consultancy services, corporate actors are learning how to ‘open their books’ to public scrutiny and judgement. We see it in ways of measuring and...