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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Governance Boards and Advisory Boards

Green Leadership Is Just Plain Smart

Stewardship is a basic foundation for good leadership

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green business footprint for California sustainable environment A friend sent me the article "Lead, Follow, or Move Aside" by Thomas Friedman, Op-Ed Columnist in the New York Times (9-26-07). It was a reminder of the many moments I've spend following the antics of this 'boy next door'.

Wal-Mart's green and sustainable business journey has been examined, criticized, analyzed, shared... and promoted as one of the largest green business efforts in the world. And they're just getting started. Why? Because what started as a PR and branding strategy is making so much sense for the company and for the times. Because green is common sense that got lost in the me-80s and the razzmatazz-90s and the scary days of the new millennium. And in the search for glamor and global survival that is welcoming the dawn of the 21st century.

Leadership is about "follow me" not "after you." Getting our national climate regulations in order is necessary, but it will not be sufficient to move China. We have to show them what Wal-Mart is showing its competitors — that green is not just right for the world, it is better, more profitable, more healthy, more innovative, more efficient, more successful. If Wal-Mart can lead, and California can lead, why can’t America?

Partnerships are forming between corporations and nonprofit sustainability researchers. Between buyers and sellers. All along the supply chain as people discover that less packaging makes all kinds of sense. That plastic isn't the one word solution for our future. That we're facing a real problem and it's big and hairy because it cuts across national boundaries and cuts into the egos and echelons of all global societies and family living rooms.

Green makes sense because it will sustain our life support system. Sustainable branding makes sense because we care about one another and it's time we start acting like it.

I'm proud that I grew up next to Wal-Mart's headquarters in northwest Arkansas and saw the devastating business practices of their early years. And glad that I learned how important local business is when I saw the damage they inflicted with their invasive pursuit of growth for the sake of growth. And I'm glad I can now see this community of common folks just like me grow up. Grow up and act on the cold hard fact that they've behaved badly at times and they now have to take more mature responsibility for their actions...and use their global clout in a more adult-like way.

I sincerely hope I'm still proud of this childhood neighbor five years down the pathway. And ten years. And fifty. And maybe they'll be proud of this neighbor, as well.

Carolyn Allen
From Springdale.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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