Getting the Green Light

By Mark Vickers

When CEOs of major corporations are talking about how it pays to be green, you know that the term is no longer being relegated to the tree-hugging fringe. Yet, despite the fact that 'going green' is becoming a key business strategy for some organizations, few experts so far are talking about how this trend applies to the workforce, affecting everything from recruitment and engagement to innovation and leadership development.

The green trend shows up in the rhetoric of some major business leaders. 'Green is green,' says GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, alluding to the potential financial benefits of producing environmentally responsible products. George David (2005), CEO of United Technologies, says, 'We make money out of sustainability we make money out of lower resource consumption.'

The greening of business also shows up in some recent market data. In the U.S., the market for organic foods is projected to grow by an annual rate of 20% in coming years, and the market for green buildings is expected to jump from $7.4 billion in 2005 to $38 billion by the end of the decade (Beck, 2006). Trend lines are also rising for certain kinds of green investments. In 2005, venture capital funds poured $917 million into clean-energy technologies, up by 22% from the previous year, according to the National Venture Capital Association (Henderson, 2006).

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