Yet this personal reconciliation was by no means the end of the road. The corporate “greening” initiatives of the late 1980s and early 1990s—pollution prevention and product stewardship—were important first steps. They shattered the myth that business should treat societal issues as expensive obligations. Instead, seen through the prism of quality and stakeholder management, these issues could become important opportunities for the company to improve its societal and operating performance simultaneously. A growing body of research pointed to the potential for enhanced financial performance through well-executed pollution prevention and product stewardship strategies. Pioneers such as 3M, Dow, and Dupont realized significant cost reductions and enhanced reputations as a result of their activities. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, with its mantra of “eco-efficiency,” helped to erase the false dichotomy between business and environmental performance.
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About the Author
Stuart L. Hart, author of Capitalism at the Crossroads, is the Samuel C. Johnson Chair of Sustainable Global Enterprise and Professor of Management at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management. Professor Hart is one of the world’s top authorities on the implications of sustainable development and environmentalism for business strategy. He has published over 50 papers and authored or edited five books. His article “Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World” won the McKinsey Award for Best Article in the Harvard Business Review for 1997 and helped launch the movement for corporate sustainability. To read Stuart’s complete biography, click here.