Why Marks & Spencer ‘get’ sustainability

Avid Radio 4 listener though I am, I can’t say I’ve ever made a point of tuning in to ‘You and Yours’. However I made an exception this morning, using R4’s Listen Again service to catch up on Tuesday’s special programme on “Corporate Social Responsibility”. Good or bad, it’s bound to provoke a blog post, I thought, and so it has.

Listening to David Henderson from the Institute of Economic Affairs prattling on about the ‘imposition’ of CSR as a huge cost burden for business, I could feel my inner ‘grumpy old man’ bubbling to the surface! Yet another economist with an outdated, blinkered view of CR and sustainability as something peripheral to core business – an unnecessary and costly distraction from the business of maximising short-term returns for shareholders.

Fortunately, this dinosaur’s views were very swiftly followed by an interview piece with Mike Barry, M&S’ head of sustainable business. He immediately restored my faith that there are people in the world who truly get the value and importance of ‘sustainability’ in 21st century…

If you look ahead 10 years, the products and services that M&S will be selling in the future won’t be the same as today. Climate change, water stress – all those kinds of things – will make it harder and harder to sell what we do today. We have to prepare for the future… It makes business sense. If customers want it, it saves you money, motivates people and drives innovation, why would you stop [because of recession]?

Spot on, sir!


2 thoughts on “Why Marks & Spencer ‘get’ sustainability

  1. Pingback: Why Marks & Spencer ‘get’ sustainability (redux) « Live Long and Prosper

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