Oral Histories

Bruce Harrison

Interview Segments on Topic: Marketing/Advertising/Branding

Bruce Harrison Biography

Bruce Harrison, author of Corporate Greening 2.0: Create and Communicate Your Company's Climate Change and Sustainability Strategies (2008) and Going Green: How to Communicate Your Company's Environmental Commitment (1993), has been called the pioneer of corporate greening.

Bruce has provided counsel on greening/sustainability matters to more than 50 Fortune 500 companies over the course of his career as vice president of Freeport-McMoran, CEO of his Washington-based consultancy, and founder/franchiser of EnviroComm International in the U.S. and Europe. He was the first executive director of the Arthur W. Page Society, comprising senior corporate communications executives, and has since 1998 worked as a team member creating Green Diesel Technology® products at Navistar International. Bruce assists companies in connecting with effective EnviroComm professional counselors.

Bruce is a frequent speaker on greening and sustainability. His lecture, "Factors Favoring Chief Communication Officers Involvement in Climate Change and Sustainability Issues", was recognized as the best paper presented by a practitioner at the 2008 Corporate Communication International conference at Wroxton College, England.

He was recognized by PRWeek in 2001 as one of the "Top 100 Most Influential PR People of the 20th Century" for his work with companies in environmental and social responsibility.

Transcript

Ahern: I want to move the conversation a little bit to the topic of environmental communications, which is something you’ve been very active in for many years. And particularly get your view on the role of ethics and that particular type of public communication. It seems to me that going back over the years, environmental issues are going where talking more about the watchdog role that the practitioners of public communication have really had their feet held to the fire when it comes to that issue. Do you think that’s heightened that awareness of the ethical aspects of public communication when it comes to that issue?

Harrison: Yeah that’s an interesting question Lee, has greening as I call it and others do, influenced moral understanding, responsibility and ethics? I’d say yes, from the standpoint that greening has a social, very strong social impact. But it’s doing something else. This idea of greening, of environmental development, has made communicators more aware of the economic impact of environmental responsibility. It’s made those in the C suite more aware of the economic impact of environmental accountability. So I’ve come to understand that what we’re now calling corporate sustainability is the kind of new umbrella over all of this. I’ll get back to how this plugs back into ethical or honest, fair behavior. Corporate sustainability, an idea that was developed originally as a government policy statement back in the late 80s early 90s, now has, it seems to me, become a combination of economic/financial, social, and political accountability inside a company. By that I mean that a company looks at what is expected and now will be required with what’s happening in Capitol Hill and in the states with regard to climate change and energy efficiency and energy accountability. Those recognitions now are driving what we have to do in the social area, social realm. So environment, energy, climate change have now pushed us to the point where we need to get involved in the politics of all of this, and it is in that place that we now get back to the ethical, moral, social, accountability and performance. So it’s an influence, the idea of environmental, environmental work and environmental effort inside a company.