A People’s Climate Agenda

From November 9-15, 2015 the New Economy Coalition will host “New Economy Week: From Austerity to Prosperity”—a public conversation about the ideas that can transform society and build an economy where people and the planet matter. Join us on November 12 for the Caring Economy Starter Course, a free webinar where we connect the dots between care and prosperity.

by Kirstin Kelley

Job killer. That’s what we usually hear when we talk about including environmental sustainability in our public policy and in boardrooms. For a long time, being green was sold as a fashion trend for the wealthy. Something to be capitalized upon, but not actually acted upon with any urgency. Investing in sustainable practices, conventional wisdom says, is too expensive and will never offer a good return on investment. In this case, as shown by the Center for Partnership Studies’ Social Wealth Economic Indicators, conventional wisdom is wrong.

Social Wealth Economic Indicators show decision-makers the economic benefits of long-term thinking, including promoting environmental sustainability.

Not only is conventional wisdom wrong, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. But in order to get to a place where all but the most eco-conscious boardrooms will seriously consider investing in sustainability initiatives, we have to first stop thinking about quarterly profits as the primary goal for every company. Such thinking forces companies to be short-sighted, focusing only on delivering the biggest dividend to investors today with little thought to maximizing profits tomorrow.

In the short run, change is almost always expensive. It requires new infrastructure, time invested in training staff, and an adjustment period while the kinks get worked out of a new system, and that’s true for sustainability as well—buying solar panels isn’t cheap for example, and that does hurt quarterly profits because this big investments take more than a few months to pay off, but in the end, they almost always do, not just in the reduce environmental impact of the companies that employ them, but in real dollars.

Today’s thinking, focusing on short-term outcomes rather than long-term solutions, hobbles companies in all areas of their business practices, not just in their ability to promote environmental sustainability. They’re unwilling to spend extra now to avoid or minimize future expenses because they might hurt the quarterly reports, and that’s dangerous for their employees and for their own longevity.

For example, most companies in the United States fail to provide paid family leave, but studies show that offering paid leave saves businesses the costs associated by on-boarding and training new employees and keeps their current employees happier, allowing them to be more productive while at work. By instead adopting a worldview that allows for longer-term outlooks, companies would actually perform better, offering better dividends to investors and greater job security for employees. The Center for Partnership Studies’ Social Wealth Economic Indicators are a tool to show decision-makers the economic benefits of such long-term thinking.

Visit the Caring Economy Campaign at caringeconomy.org

New Economy Week: neweconomyweek.org

Register for the free one-hour Caring Economy Starter Course on November 12, 11am-noon Pacific

For a complete listing of all our classes and webinars, see caringeconomy.org/onlineclasses

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