Labor Day: Time to Get to Work

05 Sep 2011Mark Lee

With a dismal jobs report released in the U.S. just prior to the Labor Day long weekend – see this CNN Money article for details – the day and its moniker will be marked with a sense of irony and even despair this year by the many who fervently wish they could find paid employment. Securing work is a staggering task at present, as captured in this New York Times feature, Hope Fear and Insomnia: Journey of a Jobless Man. Greater confidence among those with jobs would be most welcome too; this economy feels a fragile thing.

Prognostication – On Jobs and Sustainability

The CNN Money piece cites the White House view that the unemployment rate is going to take until 2017 to get below 6%. My Labor Day wish is that they will be proved wrong, allowing people to find employment, and to regain the pride and hope that tend to come with it.

End December 2010, I made a New Year’s wish also, predicting in this All or Nothing blog post that 2011 might be the ‘year of absolutes’; that is, a year in which more companies set targets of zero and 100% in pursuit of zero waste and 100% renewable energy. The previous blog listed existing leadership examples from which I hoped momentum would be generated, but now, eight months into the year, it looks like I could be waiting until 2017 for the numbers I want also.

All Aboard?

There have been positive exceptions, among them the August announcement from Germany’s flagship rail carrier Deutsche Bahn that they will “raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy to power its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and become carbon-free by 2050”. Even better, in a market where consumers often speak sustainable but buy regular, Deutsche Bahn’s CEO says this move is motivated by what customers are telling the company they want to see. Some of the companies with ambitious targets in place before 2011 began have continued to advance also, like Unilever’s work on the Sustainable Living Plan it announced last November, but where is everyone else?

Please tell me what you think. Have I missed commitments of note? Am I looking in the wrong places? And what can we expect for the remainder of this year and into 2012?

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