It may not be news that consumers are often unaware of corporate environmental initiatives, but would it surprise you to hear corporate executives may also be out of touch? The 2011 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability Study revealed 88 percent of FORTUNE 1000 executives report their companies are “going green.” Yet, only 29 percent believe a majority of other businesses are committed to sustainability.
The disconnect is more than a little surprising considering the momentum in the space. New commitments are announced almost daily – from the world’s biggest brands to its smallest enterprises – across product lines, business functions and industries. Environmentally responsible products increasingly line our shelves, corporate environmental stories flood our inboxes and green conferences fill our calendars. So why aren’t executives recognizing these efforts among their peers? Are they truly unaware or are they downplaying other companies’ initiatives, at the same time, perhaps, as they are overestimating their own?
It’s difficult to know what is at the root of this data disconnect, but each of these explanations is troubling and signals a deep communications problem in environmental responsibility. Forget consumers for a moment. Executives should take a look inward and consider whether they are accurately assessing and communicating the depth of their own companies' environmental commitments and whether they are staying abreast of others’ efforts. A little green envy among peers will foster innovation and benefit us all.