by Gregg LaBar

May 20, 2015

We’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 and social responsibility.” It typically afflicts companies that are addressing the Three Ps – People, Planet and Profit – but not communicating about their efforts.

In its simplest form, greenblushing is “walking the walk, but being too shy or unsure to talk the talk.” In our conversations with many proactive, successful companies, we’ve encountered six more-specific symptoms of greenblushing:

  • Assuming your annual (or biannual) sustainability/corporate social responsibility is enough
  • Telling only the stories you are asked about
  • Neglecting to leverage your achievements internally
  • Shying away from the tougher topics
  • Feeling that what you’re doing is “not that special”
  • Assuming some stakeholders don’t care or don’t need to know

Just like the opposite extreme of greenwashing, greenblushing can have a significant negative impact on performance and perceptions. Making the most of your sustainability/corporate social responsibility activities requires a clear, consistent communication program that effectively reaches both internal and external stakeholders, and matches the realities of performance. That is where you will find the communications sweet spot.

Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms of greenblushing? What did you do about it? Leave a comment here or join the discussion on Twitter (@threeps); or, best of all, let’s continue the conversation in the Activation Hub at Sustainable Brands San Diego from June 1 to 4. We’re in Booth 515. See you there?