The Next Sustainability Wave: Building Boardroom Buy-In
By: Bob Willard
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Price: $35

Human beings are strangely perverse species when it comes to postponing, ignoring or just straight refusing to do stuff we know is for our own long-term good.
We eat lots when we shouldn’t or fail to exercise when we should, gaily sacrificing long-term benefits to immediate addictions, indulging our misplaced sense of immunity or stubbornly embracing belief system that undermines any attempt at changing the status quo.
All of which prefaces my reaction to another well-reasoned, pragmatic and persuasively presented argument for sustainable business practice. I mean, it’s bit of no-brainer. Why would you not want world where economic growth doesn’t compromise environmental health or social stability?
For those who still have trouble answering this question – or figuring out how any balance is possible, Bob Willard’s The Next Sustainability Wave provides wealth of information, advice and examples of why and how businesses can and do benefit from paying more than lip service to triple bottom line objectives.
His book looks at how the first wave of corporate converts to sustainability tended to be driven either by an owner/manager’s personal passion, PR crisis or regulatory pressures and why he thinks we’re now close to reaching “tipping point” in terms of business takeup. Emerging drivers for the “second wave” are compelling business case and what he describes as “a perfect storm” of external market forces ranging from climate change to stakeholder pressure.
A big chunk of the book is devoted to analysing why companies have resisted adopting the sorts of strategies that would profit both the firm and the environment in which it operates and an “objection-handling clinic” deals to the arguments commonly trotted out as rationales for this resistance. Willard groups these under four major inhibitors – lack of leadership support, fear of backlash, weak business case and mindset.
The book is laid out so that the text runs through right hand pages complemented by quotes, figures and even the odd cartoon on the left hand page which gives the option of reading it through fairly quickly and dipping into the supporting material as and when you feel the need.
Willard also includes section specifically focusing on the business case for small to medium enterprises which is perhaps particularly relevant to New Zealand readers.

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