Occasionally my wife and I ask each other whether the world is getting better or worse.
On the one hand, terrorist cells continue to break out, the middle class is shrinking, and corporate greed seems worse than ever. Let’s face it: the front-page news is bad. On the other hand, there is increasing use of sustainable energy in the world, more funds are being donated to charity and more people donate their time. And underneath the din of negative media there is a sense of compassion and understanding…when we look for it.
A Sustainability Surge
Here is some good news from Green Money Journal: “In the early years of the sustainable investment industry, most companies did not recognize sustainability as a materially relevant concept. As time passed, some companies warmed to the concept. Today, the paradigm has shifted again and many companies embrace sustainability. The Governance & Accountability Institute reported that 72% of the S&P 500® published sustainability reports in 2013; this is up from 52% in 2012 and from 20% in 2011.”
Cynically, we could say that most of the companies are doing it just to paint a prettier picture of themselves. There is no doubt some truth in that, but it leads to the question: why is having a sustainability report suddenly prettier than not having one? That’s what this post is about.
All change takes time. It took time to win independence from England. It took time to free the slaves. It took time to win voting rights for all Americans, but “the pace of change is accelerating,” says management consultant Ichak Adizes.
The Urgency of Openness
The demand for transparency underlies much of this change. The culture is demanding it, and even though technology companies promote transparency to serve themselves, there is no stopping the trend. There are still secrets, but they’re gradually getting smaller and more contained. Individuals will always have human secrets that may never be discovered–lies, affairs, desires, and so forth—though it’s getting more difficult to hide them. Because the internet casts no shadows, the pace of those blowups is increasing.
Governments and many organizations and institutions are facing a greater demand for transparency. It makes their secrets harder to maintain. If you consider banking, mining, health care and lobbying groups, the sheer volume of secrets they hold is overwhelming. However, over the course of a generation or two, the climate that sustains secrecy and hypocrisy is undeniably changing. Consumers and citizens have a much lower tolerance for lying and for misleading statements from leaders.
A Savvier Public
Younger generations seem to be more adept at challenging the status quo, and these challenges matter. More of us just want to be told the truth. We can deal with reality, even if it’s unpleasant. We can make adjustments and improvements if we know the truth. However, we can’t do much with fiction, or gross exaggerations or understatements.
As more young people and more well-informed people of all ages populate the workforce, organizations slowly change. It’s unavoidable. The groundswell of support for creating a more just society with conscientious policies about the environment is mounting, day by day and year by year.
We may not see it over the course of a few years or even 10, but within a generation powerful changes are coming, and they’re undeniable.
At Savvy Rest we promote transparency by using independent laboratories to run our VOC and materials testing. We also have GreenGuard test our natural latex mattresses—in their entirety, not just individual components—to ensure that our products meet the GreenGuard GOLD standard. Transparency matters to us as much as to our customers.