Or maybe it should be called, the State of “ungreen” Business 2014.  Unfortunately, the conclusions of the report are not what we would hope.  Despite all of the great work businesses are doing, especially the larger businesses, Green Biz reports that collectively, we are not moving the needle.  Overall progress relative to key environmental goals is flat. There is no question that this news is disconcerting.   It is especially frustrating for sustainability managers and professionals who work so hard to achieve progress within their organizations.  However, there are signs of hope.  There are some areas where momentum is being gained and within which there is potential for significant transformation.

Four emerging trends highlighted in the GreenBiz report shed light on where opportunity lies.  First, there is an uptick in cross industry and cross sector collaboration on significant issues that present highly challenging and complex problems. McDonald’s recent sustainable beef commitment and initiatives are one example of what is emerging.  Second, more companies are engaging in shadow pricing, or putting a monetary value on things that aren’t currently priced, such as carbon or fully valuing water.  Last year, CDP reported a least 30 companies that were putting a price on carbon.  Third, employee engagement, which had heretofore been considered more of a “nice to do activity,” is increasingly being seen as a strategic imperative for a successful sustainability initiative.  As a result, the business case for employee engagement is becoming better defined and attracting and retaining talent is being elevated on sustainability agendas as a major issue (download Sustrana’s white paper on this topic).  Lastly, some companies are forging the way with the concept of net positive – that is, starting to create not just net-zero, or net-neutral goals, but net positive goals, as evidenced by Coke and Pepsi in their commitments to be “water positive.”

Download the Green Biz State of Green Business Report here to read about where we are (or are not) -- and where we are (hopefully) headed!