” What do you do? “

“Consulting for sustainable management”

“… … ”

“What is it? ”

“Are you business consulting? What is sustainable? ”

” Well… … ”

or several years already. I have a hard time explaining what I do to people asking for a job. Sometimes, I try to explain it in detail and understand it, but there were many cases where I was disappointed by the response that I was still not sure. However, it is not without shame to attribute this reaction to the lack of 100% explanatory power. It is because of the idea that the terminology of the field I am working on is an ambiguous and unfamiliar issue to the general public.

“If you don’t know this field… I’m doing something important… Ha ha ha ” (smiling laughter)

​I’ve been repeating some idiots, but I’m going to use the space to explain what I’m doing. First of all, let’s borrow the Naver dictionary for sustainability management and explain it as follows.

​Sustainability Management is a management activity that pursues corporate sustainability while comprehensively and balanced consideration of economic, environmental, and social issues that affect business management. In other words, it is a management technique to continuously improve the value of a company through management that considers not only financial performance such as sales and profit, which companies have traditionally considered important, but also non-financial performance such as ethics, environment, and social issues. (omitted) Compared to the existing financial performance-oriented management, sustainability management emphasizes mid- to long-term performance, includes future customers, strategically discloses information, and extends communication outside the company. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) is one of the representative indices that determine the sustainability of a company.

The message that consultants in the field of sustainability management deliver to companies is simple. to be a good company. It is quite different from appealing to emotions to be a good person, just like the grown-ups who laugh at their children. In order to continuously generate profits, which is the fundamental purpose of business operation, it must be a good company. Consultants in the field of sustainability management, including myself, deliver this to companies through theories and cases, and they play a role in persuasion and advise on specific measures.

Last year, the Namyang Dairy Incident shook the world. This is an example of a bad company that showed the tyranny of ‘A’ to ‘E’, who is powerless. Namyang Dairy’s employees forced the dealership owners of partner companies to buy products that are near their expiration date. It was not enough, so he demanded the price of holiday rice cakes, and he caused a stir by arguing with the store owner who is his father. The store owners who could not stand the unethical behavior and unfair trade that had continued as usual refused to sell Namyang Dairy products, and the entire incident was reported through the media. As the situation escalated, consumers themselves launched a boycott of Namyang Dairy’s products.

In fact, a few days before this incident, Namyang Dairy had the highest share price in recent years. However, after this incident, the stock of Namyang Dairy, which was the ‘emperor’ of the industry, plummeted. Namyang Dairy tried to make up for this through various events at large marts, but even large marts did not accept Namyang Dairy’s products. This is due to the high level of rejection of consumers.

Namyang Dairy is promoting ultra-low price marketing while declaring a ‘good company’ externally and giving up operating profits in order to find the business status before the incident. Even if sales are gradually increased through aggressive marketing, it is estimated that it will take a lot of time to restore the trust that has fallen to the ground. Overseas, many companies go bankrupt due to a similar incident. In the background, there are smart consumers who have not forgotten this situation for a long time.

Why did Namyang Dairy go through such a situation? Namyang Dairy’s management probably put pressure on its employees to ‘increase agency sales’ as a way to maximize profits. What would have happened if Namyang Dairy had encouraged its employees to ‘increase dealer sales’ and ‘improve the satisfaction of dealers’ with whom they trade? This situation would not have happened if we had recognized the performance and provided incentives to the employees who considered and implemented ways to improve the satisfaction of the store owners. Even if it is a little late, it may have established itself as a company that continues to grow.

A customer often asks, “What percentage of operating profit does sustainable management increase? ” is sometimes asked. Personally, this question is, “How much can I earn if I live a good life? I think it’s the same as the question. Of course, the fact that sustainable management helps economically can be explained through examples such as Namyang Dairy. It can also show a nice graph that can show the positive correlation between the operating profit of the global top 100 companies and the sustainability management index at a glance.

But I want to ask. Do you want to increase operating profit while adversely affecting society or damaging the environment? At Namyang Dairy, the father of a friend of a manager who used to be a ‘gap’ may work as a ‘byeong’ under the agency manager. My daughter’s daughter may end up eating the food grown on the land that has been casually damaged to increase operating profit. There is no one who does not feel remorse for speaking harsh words to his friend’s father, and no one wants to feed his family with food full of toxic substances.

Sometimes, even though it is a natural thing to do good business, I run into customers who say they will do good business when they have money. It feels so shameless. I hope that the number of customers asking about how to manage a good business and survive for a long time, even gradually, will increase. In the end, I hope that only companies that practice good management will survive and there will be many good workplaces where good employees can live.

I dream of a day when a sustainable work schedule will be given to maintain the balance of Work & Balance in the daily life of consultants in this field, including myself, who are calling for sustainability management.

​ by Seo-Uk