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In case you missed it: Greenwashing and why it's not so easy to go green from The Innovation Room at New England College of Business

Greenwashing and why it's not so easy to go green

As consumers, we're making more buying decisions than ever before based on a company's environmentally friendly, or “green” practices. Millennial workers are even taking this into consideration when choosing where to start their career. What exactly, though, do “green” claims say about a company?

According to Michele Jurgens, chair of the Master of Science in Business in Ethics and Compliance at New England College of Business, it's important to determine the legitimacy of a company's sustainability claims before supporting them as a customer or employee.

At New England College of Business's November Innovation Room session, Carla Patalano, chair of the Master of Human Resource Management program, joined Jurgens in explaining how consumers, job-seekers, and employees in compliance and human resources can detect “greenwashing,” or the false representation of a company's “green” initiatives.

“Greenwashing is the omission of information about a company, or presentation of a partial bit of information, that leads to misunderstanding about the actual integrity of the company's “green” approach,” says Jurgens. “In short, it's a form of misrepresentation.”

Jurgens and Patalano emphasize the importance of detecting this misrepresentation among organizations and companies who proclaim their sustainable initiatives, as it is crucial in terms of setting an ethical business standard and improving brand loyalty.

“Consumers are buying green because they believe in green…it's a value that we attribute importance to,” says Jurgens. “When a company greenwashes, they're undermining their own messaging and losing the trust of these consumers.”

According to Jurgens, consumers and employees can avoid falling for “greenwashing” by doing their research. Reviewing financial statements, assessing the credibility of awards and comparing the company's standards to that of other organizations can increase transparency surrounding sustainable initiatives. For employees, especially those in communications and marketing, it is important to compare internal information with the external information that is relayed to consumers and the public.

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View full-length Innovation Room sessions on YouTube.

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