Communicating Corporate Sustainability

A new book by a University of Arkansas professor provides a road map for organizations and corporations to improve their environmental sustainability programs through better communication.

In Strategic Communication for Sustainable Organizations, Myria Allen discusses how the implementation of corporate sustainability initiatives can be improved by understanding various communication theories. Environmental sustainability programs focus on reducing waste and pollution through energy, efficiency, reducing water use and improving recycling programs.

Myria Allen

Myria Allen | University of Arkansas

“We need to become wiser in how we manage our organizations, given the opportunities and threats associated with global climate change,” said Allen, a professor of communication. “This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand, shape or study the communication surrounding sustainability in their interactions with colleagues, employees, supply chain partners and external stakeholders.”

The book provides best practices for how leaders can build inclusive corporate cultures that promote sustainability and employee input. She also summarizes theories from across academic disciplines, including communication, psychology, sociology and political science.

“A lot of organizations are now seeing a business case for sustainability that focuses on people, planet and profit so they are creating new sustainable initiatives and new jobs to support those initiatives,” Allen said.

Allen conducted nearly 30 interviews at a wide range of organizations, including large corporations, small businesses, non-profits and universities. She cites the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association as an organization that effectively communicates its sustainability goals.

One of the first actions the franchise took, after measuring its environmental footprint, was to create teams among its employees to set environmental sustainability goals, principles and mottos. The team then worked with other West Coast sports teams and the Natural Resources Defense Council to create the Green Sports Alliance in 2010. The alliance has grown to include nearly 300 sports teams and venues from 20 different sports leagues in 14 countries.

“Forming coalitions with like-minded organizations and getting the public’s attention about what sustainability means for your organization is an effective way to communicate sustainability to both your employees and the public,” Allen said.

Strategic Communication for Sustainable Organizations is published by Springer Publishing.

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