Adam Werbach wrote an article in the McKinsey Quarterly last year entitled “When Sustainability Means More Than Green”. It’s common for people to immediately think of “going green”: recycling, conserving energy and anything that has to do with the environment, when hearing the word ‘sustainability’.  What many don’t know is that sustainability is more than just ‘going green’. Werbach states that “companies must consider their social, economic and cultural impact as well” as protecting the environment (McKinsey 74).

Werbach tells us that society has great expecations of successful corporations, and holds them accountable for overcoming the challenges facing our planet today, and in the future. Overcoming these challenges is more than just corporate responsibility, it’s survival. Short-term thinking is the reason why many corporations have not been able to meet the challenges, and sustain themselves. The auto industry is a good example of this.

Sustainability used to mean steadily increasing earnings for a business. Today, Werbach uses sustainability to mean driving “a bottom-line strategy to save costs, a top-line strategy to reach a new consumer base, and a talent strategy to get, keep, and develop creative employees” (McKinsey 75). He breaks it down into four components: social, economic, environmental and cultural. Though it’s difficult to implement sustainability initiatives in this economic climate, now is the perfect time to take advantage of establishing a sustainability strategy, putting tracking measures in place and planning for the future.

Werbach ends the article with this thought: “Every crisis is an opportunity. The crisis we face now is our chance – your chance – to build a strategy for sustainability into the core of your company and your life. Such a strategy is a necessity, not an idealistic solution” (McKinsey 79).

What do you think? Is Werbach right? Should companies be focused on short-term strategy for generating revenue, or long-term strategy for sustainability?