The Changing Corporation : Evolving to a Sustainable Enterprise -- A Series of Case Studies Exploring the Effect of Sustainable Development on Today's Companies
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This paper is about sustainable development and how it relates to today's businesses. Corporations are currently finding their role within society to be changing. We are living in an information age where people anywhere in the world can access information in an instant. The Internet has brought with it globalization, the connection of people and companies all around the world. Governments are downsizing and democracy is spreading; power is now with the people. As a result, corporations are finding they now have a larger role to fill in our lives and with this new role comes greater demands. One of these demands is the protection of the environment. Corporations are changing in order to meet these new demands, and one of the ways they are changing is by evolving to a sustainable enterprise. Sustainable development was defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The concept has become the number one trend among businesses today. Sustainable development is a rather broad and vague term. It varies by culture, economic status and geography. Sustainability is a flexible concept which some corporations are using to reduce the environmental impact of their products and operations. Other companies, however, are reluctant to engage in a quest for sustainability, looking at environmental management as a costly obligation. The corporations actively pursuing sustainable development are out to prove to the world that a business can be both clean and profitable. With every day comes another victory for the environment and the sustainable development cause. As these victories are announced, more and more CEOs are directing their company down the path of sustainability. This paper explores how six different corporations – Interface, Xerox, Herman Miller, Dow, Ford, and Shell-- have adapted sustainable development into their business plan.
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