Lancome: Not Just a Pretty Face–a “Green” One, Too

A so-called green business doesn’t just recycle or minimize its ecological footprint.  It’s also one that fosters real connections between employees, with suppliers, and between staff and customers.  It takes care of its “people.”  Business literature is rife with stories of what happens when companies care only about the financial bottom line.  See my entry about General Motors.

In contrast, the green model, which is part of the sustainability movement, is mindful of a “triple bottom line”–profit, planet, and people.  “Success” is not just about dollars and cents.  It’s also measured in terms of a company’s impact on the environment and on the people it serves–its consequential strangers.  (See “Sustainability Through a Social Lens”)

  • The people piece is why Zingerman’s deli in Ann Arbor trains its employes to look customers in the eye and it’s why the store involves itself in community projects and programs. (Zingerman’s is covered in Chapter 5.)
  • The people piece is why the highly successful Internet shoe retailer Zappos assembles such a diverse workforce and inspires new employees to take such good care of customers. They feel like “partners” in the business.
  • And, the people piece is what prompted an unexpected union between a company that promotes beauty and a journalist who specializes in relationships.  That would be me.  The company is Lancome.   And our first date is on November 17.

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Sustainability Through a Social Lens

“Consequential strangers” comprise the relationship piece of sustainability, which Wikipedia defines broadly as, “the potential for long-term maintenance of well being.”

Increasingly and throughout the world, we have begun to coalesce around the notion that we have to make some big changes.  Sustainability is driving us to rethink the way we use our resources, build our communities, and run our businesses. It is making us question our habits of consumption and connection, forcing us, gradually or abruptly, to face three powerful new social realities:

  • I can’t do it alone or just with my loved ones.
  • I can’t act as if I am the only one who counts.
  • I have to extend my social reach beyond what is familiar and comfortable.

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