Last week I was honored to celebrate the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC)’s 40th Anniversary at their annual conference, held in the breathtaking backdrop of St. John’s, Newfoundland (where even the torrential rain and a 24hr delay couldn’t wash the smile off my face). While there, I teamed up with two inspiring mobility leaders — and fellow sustainability advocates — to host a session on our industry’s progress in the realm of ESG.
As a panelist, I was hoping for some lively (perhaps even a little controversial) dialogue, and I am pleased to say that my expectations were far exceeded! As environmental sustainability ascends higher up the priority list for many organizations, there is much more to share regarding case studies, best practices, and innovations. The session, Leading the Charge on Environmental Sustainability, was developed on the premise that it is imperative for mobility providers, who typically see themselves as competitors, to set aside that perception in the interest of identifying and implementing solutions to the climate crisis and toward making mobility a more sustainable industry from an environmental perspective. Through this collaboration, we modeled how we share the same objectives: to establish uniform goals that contemplate the roles of RMCs, supplier partners, industry leaders, and individual customers in the effort to uphold our joint commitment to affecting change and improving our own and our respective clients’ impact on the environment. It’s a mouthful but a meaningful one!
It was reassuring and exciting to learn about clients that have introduced incentives to employees who select green alternatives, such as donating household items to reduce shipments, exploring temporary living options through “eco-friendly” hotels, and encouraging hybrid or electric car leases and purchases. And equally reassuring to witness the movement of more RMCs who are rethinking their brick-and-mortar needs and global footprint. Through vivid examples, I was also delighted to learn that partners in the supply chain – such as the household goods industry and corporate housing – are doing their part to invest in changing practices to meet independent environmental standards and guidelines.
Just when I feared too much “groupthink” around the issues of Environmental Sustainability, a healthy and candid discussion arose based on a question raised:
How much of this effort is real? And how do we avoid the perils of greenwashing, which leaves many people confused, confounded and conflated about the topic of Environmental Sustainability?
Greenwashing is usually defined as the use of deceptive marketing materials and jargon to claim to be an environmentally friendly or sustainable product or organization. In short, it’s green smoke and mirrors.
While passionate “greenies” encourage everyone everywhere to be as environmentally friendly as possible across all aspects of their lives (eat vegan, use a low-flow shower head, stop using single-use plastic, remember your reusable grocery bags, etc.), none of us are perfect. And the truth is, sustainability is a spectrum and not all sustainable endeavors are available to all organizations.
And that’s why it’s also important to acknowledge that climate justice is social justice: you can’t have the former without the latter.
That said, it’s my opinion – which I fully acknowledge was a little controversial – that until the most sustainable practices are universally available and affordable to all, sustainable solutions will remain out of reach at both the micro and macro levels because they are so often expensive alternatives that require both privilege and sacrifice. And not every organization has the option to make those choices. Ultimately, every organization must decide what steps are economically feasible and realistic for the future of their business (and, more broadly, the future of their communities).
Doing nothing at all is not acceptable – nor is it a wise business decision considering that ESG efforts are considered an essential differentiator during a time when the public (and your customers) value sustainability. But we can all agree that every journey begins with the first steps, and healthy collaboration will help us all realize a future where sustainable solutions and practices are the norms rather than an option.
At Weichert, we’ve taken bold steps toward reducing our impact on the planet and fostering a culture that promotes equity and diversity within our organization and among our stakeholders, partners, and communities. Here are a few of the ways we’re proudly “walking the walk” and raising the bar for sustainability in mobility:
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Want to learn more about Weichert’s journey to Lead the Charge on Environmental Sustainability? Dive into our most recent CSR Report.