When It Comes to Corporate Responsibility, Vocabulary Matters

By: Jess Sand | July 12, 2012

Ever wondered how those lucky few manage to land the sweet sustainability gigs at big-impact companies like Walmart and Target? Well, why not go straight to the source? We just published one such story from Net Impacter Rob Kaplan, Senior Manager of Sustainability at Walmart, and it turns out it's really not about luck after all.

Rob's career story demonstrates how a little strategy can go a long way when it comes to landing that dedicated role in corporate responsibility and sustainability. This isn't the first time we've featured Rob, though. He shared his experiences with us in last year's Corporate Careers That Make a Difference.

One of the biggest challenges Rob cited then was making corporate citizenship a priority for individuals in the company. It's not a question of whether or not it's the right thing, but how to do these things when there's tremendous pressure on everybody to meet business goals.

Vocabulary matters.

Part of what has made Rob's work in sustainability and corporate responsibility so effective is that he takes pains to learn the vocabulary of the company he works for. Having great ideas is fantastic, but they can't go anywhere unless you put them in a language your colleagues can understand. Just don't confuse vocabulary with jargon - it can be just as limiting to your communication.

Rob's focus on communication isn't surprising, given his background public policy and political communication. But it's certainly a lesson echoed by other Net Impacters, and it's one that can serve us all well as we push for change among colleagues who might not be as ready to embrace it as we are.

 

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