ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Ethical Argument for Business to "Go Green"

Updated on December 9, 2013

Can an Ethical Obligation Exist for Business?

It is a moral imperative for everybody on this planet to minimise their negative impact on it. But does this also place an ethical obligation on businesses to “go green”? And to what extent does this obligation reach – must businesses invest heavily in minimising environmental impact, even when the effects of the reallocation of finances might have other adverse effects on the business? Is it worth losing jobs over?

I say categorically, no.

People resist change

A business is a rather sensitive, but stubborn creature. This is largely a function of the people running it and working for it. People are generally resistant to change and prefer ingrained habitual behaviour. This in turn is expressed in businesses which find it challenging and requiring some creativity to achieve lasting and meaningful change in culture and methodology. “But we have been doing it like that for years, why should we change that now?” is the frustrating refrain chanted out to management attempts to make changes.

The result of this resistance to change and digging in of heels is often the result of the situation not being managed correctly; staff not understanding why changes are being made and the associated benefits; the discomfort of having to learn something new and challenging behavioural patterns. But quite apart from whether the process is managed effectively, there is an associated aspect to the resistance against change: cost.

Change needs to be sustainable for the business and its people. And in order for change to be sustainable, the business needs to be convinced of the cost-benefit analysis or it will dig in its heels too.

Source

Tight Times mean Fewer Jobs

Overcoming resistance costs money

Change costs money, sometimes lots of it. The decision makers in the business weigh up the cost of the change against the benefits to be reaped. The cost is not necessarily limited to the immediate implementation of a new system and the obvious expenses that might come with that, like buying new machinery or upgrading your computer system. Costs also include reduced productivity while staff learn a new way of doing things and overcome their internal personal resistance to change.

Any watchful and diligent business owner will eye all extraordinary expenses very carefully and change is certainly not an ordinary expense. This is where the desirability of fundamental changes in the business process inevitably bumps heads with the bean counters. They too have a frustrating refrain – how much is this all going to cost – often chanted out to the Guns N’ Roses tune of “You’re Crazy”.

Additional costs lead to cutbacks elsewhere

Once the bean counters get involved, the whole process always get more complicated. Much like other staff members resist change, so too do the accountants. They are tasked with finding money to facilitate the proposed changes and the most common way of doing this is to tighten up the expenditure in other areas of the business. It is not quite as simple as changing your daily lunch from a cheeseburger and fries to only a plain cheese sandwich, but you get the general idea.

Ordinary expenses of the business must be analysed and sacrifices made, the fat trimmed off and unnecessary expenditure cut away. Sadly, one of the first areas to lose out in a situation like this is the staff contingent. The various core competencies and functions of staff members are analysed, rationalised and certain staff inevitably are retrenched. The necessary money is saved and the problem is solved! Well… not really.

Going green, but at what cost?

This brings me back to my own apparent resistance to change.

I wholly understand the argument for individuals and business to minimise their negative impact on the environment we all live in. But consider that changing an enterprise to unrealistically cut emissions comes at a huge cost - and this cost must be considered in advocating that change. Your staff contingent is not an accounting entry, but a conglomeration of individuals with families to support.

Where the cost of change includes the loss of existing jobs, the change to green is just not worth it.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very interesting topic! The best solution seems to be to find a way to go green that does not cost the company additional money and maybe even saves money. Otherwise it is a challenge to convince people and having people lose their jobs and not be able to support their family is never a good solution.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Change is really a huge hurdle. But sooner or later, it has to be done.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)