Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saving the Earth is a Balancing Act...It Needs A Lot of Thinking Before We Could Judge...

I have been to both sides of the fence, in my early days, I once supported Greenpeace-like civil society groups in their campaigns to eliminate the ills of the environment by eliminating the cause. However, just my luck when my first job was with a business school to do research on how companies can implement environmental management systems. After more than a decade, the business school paradigm did influence my way of thinking but the social action awareness is still there. My problem right now is how do I put the two together.

Stakeholders are important, they can be customers, the government, regulatory agencies or even our Friends of the Earth. Having a voice is important and fast food companies must consider the deeper meaning of their stakeholder's advocacy not just simply please them and give them what they want.  Just like the polystyrene dilemma, in effect, a new problem arose in term of effluent and air quality impacts within the vicinity of a fast food facility. Such is the impact of just simply trying "to please" a stakeholder rather submit themselves on a far more critical environmental due diligence.

Often, we see environmental managers strongly influenced by NGO pressure that they fail to consider that managing environmental impacts is implemented in a strategic framework....I remember a case when a fast food manager agrees to set up an NGO-recommended compost bins for a fast food store without due consideration to the existing HACCP-based food safety management system....well flies swarmed over the burgers...and it became bad for business.

The purpose of civil action is not to be simply pleased for a certain issue, it requires companies to take a more responsible approach in their strategies that environmental management becomes a core organization framework not just simply a fire-fighting PR agenda.

(Photo credits from Greenpeace)