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No Longer Shy About Greenblushing

In an October 26, 2009 post, I introduced the concept of greenblushing. Since then, a number of people have confirmed for me that it’s real and growing.

And it can have serious repercussions – limiting companies’ ability to capitalize on investment intangibles, market and customer acceptance, and employee goodwill that are inherent in their sustainability efforts.

As a reminder, I’ve defined greenblushing as “limited or no information disseminated by an organization so as to understate or ignore its commitment to and actions on environmental responsibility.” It’s walking the walk but being too unsure and shy to talk the talk. It’s roughly the opposite of greenwashing.

Symptoms include downplaying or not communicating your sustainability achievements, and believing you need “all the answers” before you can talk about your progress and the ongoing journey. The fact is full-fledged participation in sustainability indexes and sustainability reporting is a high hurdle that is dominated by large, high-profile, public companies.

Proactive communications on such an important issue should not be a high hurdle. And I don’t think companies should be deterred by people who question their motives (e.g. profiting from their efforts). In fact, shouldn’t we be celebrating the cases that enrich all Three Ps?

Next week, to continue to try to get the word out, I’ll be at the Sustainability Symposium sponsored by Baldwin-Wallace College in suburban Cleveland. The March 1-2 event is free and open to the public and I hope to see you there. If not, I hope to see you here and @ThreePs on Twitter, helping to keep this conversation going.

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