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FROM FOOTPRINT TO MINDPRINT

Progressive businesses have become masterful in accounting for their immediate material impact – from health effects to environmental footprints – and pushing innovation to counter these. In this respect, private sector commitment to sustainability has never been so strong, with year-on-year increases in investment in sustainability.[ref]Borkaw, L. (2011) Five Ways That Sustainability Commitment Is Up — Dramatically, MIT Sloan Management Review, November 2011.[/ref]

But aside from the obstacles faced even in this limited framework – including lack of meaningful internal or public support – how can business start to think about its impacts more broadly? How do the ways they market their products and services, or their internal structures and decision-making policies, play a role in shaping our societal responses to shared problems?

The values literature would suggest we need to move from considering business’ footprint to exploring business’ mindprint. How does business practice, both internal and external, influence our cultural values? And how, in turn, does this affect our levels of social and environmental concern – shown to be largely driven by the values we hold?

To address these questions, Common Cause and a panel of business advisors are currently undertaking a values-based analysis of business sustainability and producing an opening guide for businesses wishing to take their mindprint seriously.

For more information contact Ali Freeman: alison.joy.freeman@gmail.com

Elena BlackmoreBusiness

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