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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Corporate Responsibility is Not an Oxymoron; It’s What Sustainability Means to Me

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By Becky Ericson
Science Communications

Sustainability is one of those slippery words holding a different meaning for just about everyone. Over the past decade it’s become the “it phrase” for innumerable companies and organizations to differentiate their products and services. But what does it actually mean and by what (or whose) measure?

Becky Ericson

Becky Ericson

While I can’t speak for other companies or products, I can share what sustainability means to me. And I can offer an employee perspective on how Monsanto shares several of my personal values that align with my role as a young professional, mom and member of the 30-something crowd.

At the most basic level, I consider sustainability to be about doing more good at less cost. By “good” I mean innovation in product development, employee and community engagement, contributing to broader social and societal needs, and doing this all with enough smarts and ingenuity to make a profit – giving us permission to do more good tomorrow. In terms of reducing costs, it’s about enabling cropping systems to use less water, or use it more efficiently; it’s about reducing a company’s environmental footprint; and it’s about advocating for safe and supportive work environments around the globe, just to name a few.

Monsanto was recently named one of CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2014. As one of the 22,000 employees at Monsanto, I take great pride in this endorsement of our practices. But perhaps more importantly, this news helps me see a vision of how Monsanto and other companies can continue to do more in this space and be the leaders driving entire industries to raise the collective bar.

There are two ways to change the world when it comes to corporate social responsibility. You can fight organizations, highlight practices you disapprove of and try to stop them, or you can become part of the organizations you seek to change and be positioned to make it happen. While I’m not on a mission to change the world, I am part of an employee groundswell supporting this cultural shift.

Capitalism and societal good are not at odds;  in fact, I believe the union of these two notions is the key for future economic growth and social wellbeing. But this doesn’t happen automatically or by chance. It takes strong and inclusive business leadership, openness to outside dialogue, and a willingness to take action. It also takes a workforce – people – with shared values and ambition to drive forward responsible and sustainable practices.

I feel motivated to walk into the office at Monsanto every morning. Part of that comes from the amazing projects I’m fortunate enough to lead; part of it is for the paycheck that enables my family to thrive; and part of it is the belief that I’m working to deliver safe, affordable and nutritious foods to families around the world. #Grateful

Follow Becky Ericson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/beckyericson

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