Gifford Pinchot III on Sustainability

Source:  Gifford Pinchot III is a founder of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.  He spoke on August 11, 2011 in Seattle to the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students.  The audience contained a number of students from Shanghai on  an exchange study trip from China.

Mr. Pinchot made the case for employing a sustainable strategy in business.  He argued that employing a sustainability strategy was both the ‘right’ thing to do and that it was compatible with the achievement of business goals.  Employees, he suggested, rarely get excited about improving the bottom line of  a business.  Many are, however, passionate about environmental goals.  Motivating employees to help make their employers more sustainable as often very consistent with achieving cost savings–and improving the financial performance of their employers.  Sustainability helps:

  • Build the brand of the business;
  • Reduce waste and lowers costs;
  • Reduce strategic risk from factors such as climate change, brand damage, and insurance premiums;
  • Improve employee attraction and motivation; and
  • Creates a culture of innovation.

“Only business has the creativity, flexibility, and resources to solve the world’s major problems.”

The key to success, he argued, was the Happo/Dammo Strategy:

  • Look for ways to make people happy;
  • Find ways to increase that happiness that minimize damage; and
  • Figure out how to be paid for doing so.


1 thought on “Gifford Pinchot III on Sustainability

  1. Gifford is right in that sustainability is the ‘right thing to do’ and yet I would stress (and trust he would agree) that it’s more than just “compatible” with the achievement of business goals- sustainability is the goal. Being that our environment enables our economy, which in turn depends upon our communities, which depend upon our environment, those who aren’t embracing the full social, enviro, and economic spectrum of sustainability when establishing their ‘business goals’ are being short-sighted, and the business will prove ‘incompatible’ in the long term.
    Happo/Dammo is a fine lens through which to filter our daily activities and I would look forward to a book from Gifford on the topic!

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