The fact that rhetoric and reality do not match is an often heard accusation in politics and business. Looked at closely, this is of course too simple: rhetoric is part of reality and has a major impact on it. Nevertheless: when it comes to sustainability and CSR, the distinction makes sense. Where much is announced and little action is taken, criticism is appropriate. The word "greenwashing" sums this up.
The bad news is: there is something like that. The good news is, it's getting harder and harder to get away with. Companies that talk a lot and do little now run a major reputational risk. Because: The social sensitivity for topics like climate protection has grown considerably. And: Global media networking makes it increasingly difficult to get away with insubstantial claims.
Announcements of sustainable behavior can therefore be viewed positively. Because the probability that they will remain symbolic and not have any effect is nowadays rather low. The same applies here: Language creates reality - at least in the long term. To paraphrase Lincoln: You can fool all people for some time and some people all the time; but fooling people all the time - you can't do that.
Fred Luks is a researcher, publicist and moderator and accompanies organizations in their transformation towards sustainability. fredluks.com
Photo: Christina Häusler
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