Being viewed as a respected leader or an irresponsible corporation is as much about timing as anything else.
With real estate, it is all about location, location, location. With sustainable development and social responsibility, it is all about timing, timing, timing, to wit:
- What did this company know and when did it disclose this information?
- What have other companies done and when did this company employ similar industry practices?
For example, if the typical corporate sustainability report published today had been released in 1992, it would have been considered one of the best in the world, attracting accolades far and wide. Today, these reports are expected, standardized via the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines, and regarded by stakeholders a minimum level of transparency. The same perspective applies to having in place an ISO 14000 management system or its equivalent. Indeed, there is a set of practices above and beyond compliance that is considered the minimum for responsible corporations.
Closely related is a company’s speed to which it responds to changing external dynamics:
- Does management consistently take a wait-andsee position and then react (or overreact) to an issue only after it can no longer be avoided?
- Does management anticipate future trends and get ahead of the curve through proactive steps?
- Does management attempt to delay the implementation of clearly needed new industry standards or regulations?
- Does the company’s corporate culture discourage the bringing forward of negative news or recommendations assumed to not be in keeping with upper management’s beliefs or wishes?
- Does management actively encourage new approaches?
- Does the management seek contrary views and opinions by engaging in stakeholder dialogs?