Jargon Watch: "Greenmuting"


Yes, Virginia, there is a "McDonald's Corporate Responsibility Blog" discussing the subject "through the eyes of Vice President, Bob Langert, and the other people at McDonald's who work on corporate responsibility issues that matter." He picks up on the "six sins of greenwashing" and suggests that "many companies are reluctant to talk about their environmental efforts because they are concerned they will only be met with criticism" which certainly is the case with McDonalds and TreeHugger.

Langert continues: "true progress is hard to define, and achieving perfection on the environmental front is impossible, because there will always be ways to improve. But not talking about environmental efforts, or "greenmuting", can be a sin as well. Here's my list of the "Six Sins of Greenmuting":

1. Waiting for 100% understanding of the science behind the issues before taking action and making a claim. The Reality: If you do, you'll wait forever. Don't get me wrong, research is essential. But you can't let the analysis cause paralysis and prevent you from getting the public informed and involved.

2. Be cautious on environmental claims because NGOs will probably just rip into your organization. The Reality: Solid NGO partnerships are essential, but if you think you can please all stakeholders, you're brainwashing yourself.

3. Not too many people choose products or services based on their environmental footprint. The Reality: Conscious consumerism is on the rise, and I'm banking on consumers using their purchasing power to make a statement more and more in the years to come.

4. Green consumers are a small niche.
The Reality: Green is getting more mainstream than ever. There is enormous opportunity here to build the strength of a business, especially in terms trust, brand and reputation.

5. By communicating more and more on the environment, pressure will build to take actions that are not practical or advantageous for the business. The Reality: Expectations are rising. Period. Why not get out ahead of the curve and develop the best possible solutions for the business?

6. When "greenwashing" is discussed, stay low and away from the conversation. The Reality: Follow the advice in the Six Sins list. Let's get greener, and talk about it the right way.

There are some good points here, but what is "greenmuting"? A new form of false modesty, an "Aw shucks, its nothing, we are doing great things but you won't believe us so we won't bother you about it"? or is Langert just being realistic and pointing out that "We're McDonalds and there is nothing we could ever do that will make you happy so why bother talking to you about it"?

Is there a company in America whose flacks aren't working overtime painting the company green? Watch for this word and take it with a grain of salt, or a side of fries, or whatever. ::McDonalds via ::Triple Bottom Line

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