Groundbreaking sustainability consultancy emerges from social media

Posted:  May 17th, 2011 by:  The Environment Site comments:  0

We’re all used to hyperbole these days.

Journalists use it to grab their readers’ attention (“Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”); marketeers use it to grab consumers’ attention (“Guinness For Strength”) and children use it to seriously annoy their parents (“But Muuum, eeevvvrrryyyyone has one!”).

Similarly, claims to be the world’s first are either so niche or so mundane that they’re unimportant.  However, that doesn’t mean to say that once in a while they’re not true.

“I imagine we are the first international consultancy to be born out of social media,” Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Founder and Director of the Green Den Consultancy (GDC), tells me.  I think she’s right, and the groundbreaking nature of GDC probably goes way beyond just CSR.

Like many people taking the lead in sustainable business , Akhila’s background is varied and fast developing.  Five years ago she completed a degree at the University of Glasgow in Molecular and Cellular Biology before working in climate change and environmentalism for The British Council and Greenpeace.

It was during this time that she started to look at CSR and the seed that became GDC was first planted in a blog which had “no real purpose than to vent some frustrations and bring some issues to the spot-light”.

“I knew I wanted to make a change – specifically I wanted to work with small/medium sized businesses from ground up,” elaborates Akhila. “When I started tweeting a year ago and exchanging ideas with people … I reached the conclusion that I did have a valid business model. After that, GDC gathered steam.”

From there, GDC has now launched as what Akhila first envisioned: “I wanted to bring together a bunch of consultants with the same goals to work on local projects with a global outlook …We are remote-based, with different academic and cultural backgrounds but at the end of the day we speak the same language (ie. sustainability).”

It’s this latter point which makes The Green Den such a groundbreaking initiative.  It’s not a traditional company working in one sector or one geographic location.  While it’s core team all specialise in CSR, they’re spread across India, the US and Europe with competencies as varied as environmental law, the built environment, quantitative research and public private partnerships.

“The Western world comes with a different set of challenges and the Eastern bloc is a different ball-game altogether,” Akhila explains. “We cover many industries and specialities that will be very beneficial to multi-dimensional businesses. Some of us are more economy oriented and other of us are more scientific oriented … we are more flexible and are able to understand our customers’ problems and needs better.”

Features on the overlap between CSR and social media are becoming more and more commonplace, and with good reason: social media enables the direct staff, customer and client “peer to peer” communication which CSR demands.

However, GDC goes beyond this.  It was quite literally born in the Twitterverse when like minded people from around the world started to discuss issues and exchange ideas.  So, not only is profit orientated “business as usual” coming to an end, but so is the whole way companies are established and operate.  In Green Den Consulting we can see this future, and it looks really rather good!

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