Changing course, leading in a sustainable way

The book Leading Sustainably promotes the change towards sustainability of the world's companies .

Cover of the book 'Leading Sustainably' by Trista Bridges and Donald Eubank

Trista Bridges and Donald Eubank’s book shows one way to move towards sustainable business. / Photo:

The Woman Post | María Lourdes Zimmermann

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Leer en español: Cambiando el rumbo, liderando de manera sostenible

Trista Bridges and Donald Eubank are the authors of the book Leading Sustainably: The Path to Sustainable Business and How the SDGs Changed Everything ”. It illustrates how the rise of 'consumer culture' pushed the industry to shift towards sustainability.

The book is a perfect guide for senior mid-level managers looking to understand in this rapidly changing business environment, how to include sustainability in their decision making and why the SDGs are changing the way they do business.

Leading Sustainably, captures the ideas of more than 100 agents of change from around the world on how companies are putting sustainability at the center of the strategy to survive, prosper and realign their interests with those of society.

The authors analyze how sustainability has evolved in a business context, offering valuable information, key facts and guidance on how to build sustainability capacity within companies, measure and manage impact, sustainable finance transformation, and other critical topics.

And fashion is one of the topics of analysis of the book. The authors note in a chapter of the publication, as there are few sectors that have been under as much scrutiny in regards to sustainable business models as the fashion and clothing industry.

The rise of "consumer culture" in the second half of the 20th century, the publication claims, was both a boon to the industry and a curse. The rise of famous brands, the rise of main streets and shopping malls, and the rise of the middle class around the world, converged to create an ideal market environment for global fashion and apparel groups and retailers that are they were consolidating more and more but at social and environmental costs that have cost the world.

The fast track to fast fashion and retail models, initiated by companies like Top Shop and Zara, further fueled consumer desire for the latest and greatest fashions, increasing the volume of clothing produced and shipped around the world.

The downside has been an increasing burden on the environment, society and communities in emerging markets. As globalization took hold and demand increased, production moved eastward, to Japan and Taiwan first, then China, and then Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Contract manufacturing has become the norm across the industry, the authors analyze in a flawless account of the history and path to sustainability of some brands.

Also read: Why the business world needs sustainable CEOs post COVID19

The most famous scandal, perhaps, was that of Nike, which injected the word "sweatshop" into the public consciousness. The 1990s turned into Nike's "horrible decade," with a spate of labor and environmental scandals at its Asia-based contract manufacturers. An Ernst and Young study found that 77 percent of workers at a supplier factory had respiratory problems and were exposed to dangerous carcinogens, 177 times the legal level.

But with the demands of the same global market, Nike has made a change since those days and now sees itself as an industry model on how to embrace sustainability, but it took years to undo the damage and for the industry as a whole to follow suit. and straighten the ship according to research reported by Leading Sustainably.

Driven by bold sustainable fashion innovators and an evolving consumer mindset on sustainability issues in fashion and apparel, the industry is entering a period of reflection and reinvention. As we've seen in the information technology industry, innovation rarely makes the headlines. Instead, it comes from small, disruptive innovators who see the problems facing the sector as opportunities to drive innovation and reimagine how the system works.

Global fashion and apparel groups are embracing and beginning to invest in fashion technology startups and innovations to make business more sustainable and responsible, more transparent for its consumers.

Trista Bridges, author of the book along with Donald Eubank, is an expert in strategy and marketing and advises organizations on sustainability and Eubank is an experienced manager who serves as a key advisor for companies that are integrating sustainability into their core strategy. Both deliver a book full of stories, cases and many recommendations to change and make companies prepared for the demands of the market and leave the world in better conditions than we have all found it.

Article based on chapter six of the book Leading Sustainably

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