The Idealists’ Turn

Uncategorized Posted Oct 15, 2009 by metropolis

Up until the relatively recent clean tech boom, I’d heard little day-to-day, rank-and-file talk of “doing good” in the 15 years of my professional career in high tech. For sure the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been around for a while, and lots of companies have CSR statements and programs. And of course there were a lot of people and companies in fact doing good.

But among the people and companies where I spent my time that sort of goal or vision just didn’t come up much in day-to-day professional contexts. (One notable exception is my former client Lotus Development (now a division of IBM of course), who in my experience always did an impressive job of making its philanthropic commitments a central and pervasive part of its business).

So it is that I find the sort of talk I heard at the Boston-Area Sustainability Group meeting last night so refreshing and inspiring. Co-founded by a former Bay Networks colleague of mine, Rich Goode, and Glen Grant, the group aims to bring together like-minded individuals across all sorts of professional disciplines and companies for informal presentations and networking.

Last night Tom Permatteo, founder of a very cool company called — a blog that helps consumers make environmentally motivated purchase decisions — and Glen Grant, founder of environmental IT consultancy G2 Technology, presented to the group. Their presentations and the informal discussion among all the attendees before and after the presentations were replete with references to doing good, environmental responsibility and global accountability. The general consensus in the room was that entrepreneurial/business success and environmental responsibility, far from being mutually exclusive, are complementary.

It is in my judgment a very positive evolution that this kind of talk is now commonplace in the technology industry. Big props to Rich and Glen for co-founding the group — it was energizing to be among so many idealists and I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.