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Global CIO: CEOs Who Don't Bleed Green Must Go, Says Forrester

The 71% of CEOs who are more concerned with their company's financial health than with "the environment" should be fired, says a Forrester senior VP.

Bob Evans

September 8, 2010

4 Min Read

"And when asked about the proposition that 'scarcity of resources will impact organizations to a large extent,' 65 percent of students said Yes, compared to just 29 percent of the CEOs. So how quickly can we get these dinosaur CEOs out of the way, and get some young blood into the executive suite? Not very quickly, I'm betting."

So let me get this straight: customers are buying less, the threat of a continued or even deepening global economic downturn is very real, companies are hoarding cash because of pervasive uncertainty over near-term economic policy changes, but CEOs need to worry less about all that capitalist crap and take a cue from wide-eyed students to focus more on "the environment"—does that sound like advice for which you'd pay a lot of money?

Let's go back to Mines, who in the first part of this comment offers a glimmer of hope when he admits to being blinded by his lens, but quickly dashes that hope with his conclusion that CEOs who worry about meeting payrolls and limiting layoffs and coping with massive uncertainty just don't know what they're talking about—rather, it should be all about "the environment," dang it! And recall what he said above about those knuckle-dragging CEOs who don't see the world through his incredibly narrow lens, and who therefore must be swept aside to make way for the environmentally enlightened: "So how quickly can we get these dinosaur CEOs out of the way, and get some young blood into the executive suite?"

Here's Mines on the misplaced priorities of CEOs stuck in the tawdry un-green scene (bold-face emphasis mine):

"One prominent takeaway for readers of this blog: sustainability and environmental concerns are NOT gaining ground on the priority list of global CEOs. Take a look at Figure 1: "environmental issues" are stuck in 7th place on the list of the most important external factors impacting the CEOs' organizations over the next 3 years. So while we in the sustainability community think we're making headway in corporate boardrooms, these data don't show much progress over the last six years.

"But another part of the IBM study does illuminate a more optimistic finding for the future: university students, surveyed in parallel with the CEO study, rate environmental issues much higher than do the CEOs (see Figure 2). Environment jumps from 7th to 4th when the respondents are students instead of CEOs."

And by the way, the six "top external factors" in the IBM study that Mines feels are trifling but that most CEOs ranked as more important than "the environment" are market factors; technological factors; macroeconomic factors; people skills; regulatory concerns; and globalization.

So, as Mines himself writes, 71% of the CEOs responding to the massive IBM survey disagree with him—but it is they who are wrong and need to be gotten "out of the way."

But Mines—the guy who's touting some vague environmental advocacy over the business survival the CEOs are focusing on—also tells us not to worry because college kids (and God bless them all—I've got two) say "the environment" should rank 4th instead of 7th.

I wish Christopher Mines much luck in his new environment-over-all advocacy because, in the absence of logic and practical business sense in his approach, luck is about the only thing he can try to lean on.

At least, that is, until we can find some green-enraptured students to replace the 71% of CEO respondents who Mines thinks are stone-age morons for daring to put economic survival and well-being ahead of environmental zealotry.

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To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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About the Author(s)

Bob Evans

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Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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