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Protecting people and the planet

“We’re not at the top of this little hill called corporate social responsibility, we’re at the bottom of this big mountain called sustainability.”
— Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business, Marks & Spencer

Increasingly we are seeing the marginalisation of companies and organisations stuck in the old economic paradigm of ‘profit at any cost’, operating with the sole purpose of protecting stock prices and maintaining shareholder value.

The Brands of tomorrow are about progress; making this world a better place for everyone. Creating wealth and value for a forward moving society, in ways that protect the environment for future generations; whilst at the same time, generating returns for its investors. These are the brands that people want to invest in!

We’re not talking about token gestures to keep bloggers away, or side projects aimed at alleviating any notions of guilt. It’s about a brand built upon respect; respecting the world we live in, and respecting society. Profit should not come at the expense of people or the planet, but be intrinsically linked to well-being and sustainability.

The Industrial Age has been about generating wealth by plundering our planet’s natural resources for profit. The average 10 lbs laptop computer requires 40,000 lbs of raw materials to produce. It doesn’t require you to be a genius to see this is not sustainable.

Doing good should not just be seen as the work of charity and not-for-profits. Business can be an incredible force for good, and any plans for a more sustainable and healthy world must have business as part of the answer.

In a 2013 survey of the Best Global Green Brands, the top three green brands were car manufacturers. Companies and industries which were once perceived to be part of the problem are taking it upon themselves to be part of the solution, taking seriously their responsibility to society and the environment.

Sustainability is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, it is a core value at the heart of a brand in the 21st century. Any brand which negates its responsibility to society and the environment will find itself left behind.