…is reputation management. Sustainable corporate development only makes sense when company’s social engagements are reasoning its own conviction. Companies are often motivated by outside-based reasoning: popular media themes, pressure from certain groups or new regulations. Such an approach leads to blurring of lines between the company’s development and its responsibilities in terms of sustainability. In addition, companies notice that not all initiatives have real contribution to the strengthening of their business. Why is that so? The sort of activities only make sense when they are in line with the company’s principles. No universally-relevant aspects exist that require immediate, at-all-costs company action to be undertaken as solutions.
What does wellbeing at the workplace depend on? It is determined by us. We often want to create a sense of wellbeing at the workplace, but we don’t always have clarity on what we actually want to achieve.
The impact of various products on the environment is a theme that most modern people are well acquainted with – we are constantly bombarded with news about carbon emissions, air pollution, resource depletion and other similar topics. Human activity undoubtedly influences the environment in various ways, which leads to the question of which influence is the most important. The Cola-Cola Company asked themselves this question in the distant 1969, which led to the creation of the first life cycle assessment (LCA) in the world.
“The collapse of foreign investments is total” according to the chamber of commerce. Similar titles have been sweeping the media landscape like avalanches during the last days, but we encounter them on a yearly basis – we complain that there are no investments in our economy, especially in the heavy industry sector. Forget about the factories that assemble all sorts of things for a moment and try to remember when was the last time someone created an industrial complex for processing the raw materials we produce. I can only recall the “Astra bioplant” biodiesel refinery near Ruse, which was built with the help of subsidies, and the “AES Galabovo” power plant that replaced the two Kozloduy nuclear reactors that were shut down as a cost of entry into the EU (which we will be paying off for a long time to come). All of the remaining investments have been channeled into existing operations that survived after the 90’s.
I would like to start with a question that I wish I heard more often: “How can I know whether my business is sustainable?”. Unfortunately, I cannot do so, because I rarely ever hear it. Instead, I come across assured claims like: “My business is sustainable because we have initiatives for the reduction of energy usage and we make considerable donations to good NGOs”.
We often come to the following question together with our partners and clients: who should be engaged with the sustainable development of the company, in what department and what responsibilities should they have? In most cases in Bulgaria, the people who deal with sustainable business development are managers and experts in corporate communications. The increased number of employees who take on the roles of Corporate Social responsibility managers, specialists and sustainability managers/directors is notable.
We want our employees to be happy and we work hard to make it so. Yes, defining and managing happiness is mostly a personal matter, but what role do we as organization leaders have? We believe that our role is to create an environment in which emotions are not labeled. It seems to us that the accepted definition of professionalism is the ability to always stay positive and to never feel negative emotions or at least manage and suppress them well. Let’s be honest – these are the rules that, more or less, define relations in teams. The problem is that people can’t feel happy, wholesome and capable of managing themselves and their stress for long in such environments. This happens because we falsely believe that we control our emotions, whereas as the truth is that they control us.
Every domain of activity has its myths and sustainable development is no exception – it is actually permeated by them. Managing our attitude to these myths is the only way for humanity to progress in the long term. Here are some of the most common misconceptions in the public mind:
Over the last years a certain outlook has become trendy. It goes something like this: the application of universal policies, indicators and criteria for the sustainable development of companies and the decisions of their investors is a sure way to create long-term business success. At this point in time we have enough practical experience with this way of thinking so as to be able to gauge how true it is.
In reality we started to get cleaner air from the moment humanity discovered and began using electricity. The same can be said about outdoor air quality – the more solid fuel burning that takes place, the worse pollution tends to be. The most developed nations with the freest markets enjoy the cleanest air, which is a new development in history. The only exceptions are found in countries with a large proportion of diesel vehicles, which is the case in Europe. And here we come to the second myth on the subject – people believe that regulations keep the air clean. Not exactly – it was precisely the green politics of Europe that stopped the improvement of air quality because they led to the widespread use of diesel vehicles. This is nothing less than a reversal of the natural path of development that leads us from clean to dirtier fuels.
The question with which I associate Sirakov’s 1986 score in Mexico is “When will we be able to eat salad again?”. My mother is a chemical engineer, but she didn’t know. The answer was known only to a small circle of people and we weren’t among them. I associate our travels along the south Balkan line with people telling us to “Close the windows! We are getting close to the copper production combine.” I barely remember the visits to my relatives in Ruse, but there is one memory that will stay with me forever. A key question was always present in their daily conversations:
„Will we be able to breathe today?“