H&M’s goal to be climate positive by 2040 will likely require significant monetary and time investment in new technologies, labor, and perhaps higher quality materials. While this may drive costs higher in the short-term, in the long term, these tactics may result in increased efficiency, potentially more consumer interest, and long-term business sustainability. H&M is one of the largest retailers in the world and their behavior will encourage other retailers to behave in a similar fashion, especially as consumers become increasingly sensitive to environmental issues. In addition, because of H&M’s scale, the publicity of their environmental impact will drive consumer education and understanding. Therefore, as more companies adapt environmentally friendly strategies, companies that do not adapt will become less relevant and appealing for consumers worldwide. H&M’s decision to invest in this goal is a strategic, long-term business decision as much as an environmental decision that will positively affect the climate change discussion.
Companies such as Delphi that have global supply chains are faced with a problem in which they seem to lose regardless of their solution. It likely becomes financially unsustainable to operate in countries in which high tariffs will be required to export goods. Therefore, even those who believe that the company has a moral responsibility to maintain jobs in vulnerable communities in which it exists today may concede that remaining in its international plants would not benefit its employees in the long-run. If high tariffs from international plants threaten the viability of the business, employees are not necessarily better off. In a world where expensive tariffs are the reality, Delphi should seek solutions that maintain the longevity of the company and support employees. For example, it might be most beneficial for the company to relocate operations but help transport employees to new locations. In addition, the company should strategize about other jobs or capabilities that can be done internationally without necessitating expensive tariffs.
Walmart’s status as the top grocer in 28 countries positions it as a leader in the industry and a potential role model for other companies seeking to reduce waste using technology and other means. Walmart has the resources to invest significant funds in technology that can address its own store-level waste. In addition to store-level strategies, Walmart should be focused on the upstream members of its supply chain. In fact, as Christina writes in her piece “Retail’s role in eliminating Global Food Waste,” Tesco has played a large role in changing the behavior of its suppliers. Given Walmart’s scale, it, like Tesco, has the purchasing power and leverage to work with its suppliers and adapt their behavior to eliminate waste. Further, It would behoove companies like Walmart and Tesco to work together to develop optimal strategies and make a change in food waste industrywide, using both digital and non-digital methods. Evidently, this is not a company-specific problem, but rather an industry wide issue.
Twitter’s power comes from its users, particularly the influential ones who post thought-provoking, funny, or relevant tweets. It is this active user base that encourages others to either actively or passively use the platform. However, as the caliber (and even authenticity) of the user base is put into question, the reason to check Twitter or tweet diminishes. It is therefore critical that Twitter address the inauthenticity and danger of hackers and bots. Whether or not Twitter believes they are “responsible” for the content on their platform, low quality and questionable content will negatively impact their business. Further, the court of public opinion will ultimately hold Twitter accountable for the content on its platform. To combat these risks, Twitter should institute a more rigorous sign up flow that authenticates users and verifies them before they are able to tweet. While this may create hurdles in the signup flow, Twitter is already established and widespread enough that it likely will not have an outsized negative impact on their business. In addition, at this point in Twitter’s company lifecycle, it is more important for the company to ensure “real” users than to allow for unchecked user growth at the expense of the user quality. Twitter also needs to have a continuous due diligence process that maintains standards for content and consistently monitors suspicious account activity. While freedom of speech is an inalienable right, Twitter is a business that has the right and obligation, to its users and shareholders, to ensure the validity of its content.
Tesco’s efforts at reducing waste in its own stores and supply chain is admirable. However, beyond efforts to reduce the waste of its suppliers and its own purchased items, Tesco should work to educate others about the current wastefulness of the food supply chain. Given the company’s scale and purchasing power, it likely has significant power to influence other decision makers and players in the industry, including other suppliers, competitors, and consumers. Tesco should begin by targeting consumers with messaging about waste. Doing so would not only reduce waste, benefiting the environment, but also may help drive sales of items that otherwise go unpurchased or expand sales of certain categories. Further, as this proves to be good business, competitors would likely follow. As an example, frozen food is a category that has been facing declines in recent years in part due to its perception as a less healthy alternative to fresh food. However, not only is frozen food frequently healthier to fresh due to the optimal harvesting and freezing time that locks in nutrients, it also typically results in less waste. The ability to store frozen vegetables for an extensive period of time without worrying about spoilage results in less wasted food. Promoting this category would serve the dual purpose of driving sales of a lackluster category and reducing waste in consumers’ homes.
In addition, appealing to consumers’ wallets with better pricing on “less beautiful” produce or food that has passed its “best by” date may be a way to overcome the initial consumer hesitation to purchase these historically unappealing products. Sales and promotions can serve as a first step in the education process, in the hopes that consumers will ultimately understand the importance of these purchases for eliminating waste.
As future leaders, we can start by examining our own purchasing and consumption behaviors and evaluating where there is room for improvement. For example, I sometimes purchase too much produce with the optimistic view that I will cook or consume all of it. However, reality strikes and I end up throwing away spoiled goods. If I can be better about planning my shopping and scheduling my individual behavior can have a positive impact on the environment.