Is easyjet’s sustainability call a swallow or a cuckoo?
How prominent will sustainability be in post-Covid corporate messaging?
Cynics say it will be largely absent because the public will be more interested in economic growth and less in the virtues of companies being nice to people and the environment.
Green optimists argue the opposite, seeing consumer demand for an economic recovery that tackles acknowledged sustainability challenges that were being largely ignored pre-pandemic.
That’s why a marketing email from the European budget airline, easyjet, is so interesting. Even heartening. (And I never thought I would use that word in the same sentence about an airline that has often let me down).
As with most airlines, easyjet’sbusiness evaporated overnight after Europe went into lockdown. That it is still sufficiently alive to send marketing emails is a small miracle.
What’s even more heartening is the inclusion of sustainability in its three key messages linked to the relaunch of its services under its “Europe with Confidence Pledge”. Here’s an extract from the letter from its CEO, Johan Lundgren.
“That’s why today, in light of COVID-19, we’re launching our ‘Europe with Confidence Pledge’. A promise to you, our customers, that we’ll look out for your wellbeing, reaffirm our commitment on sustainability, and continue to offer great value.” (Our italics).
And this is what Johan has to say about sustainability:
“Even though the way we operate will look different for a while, we will not be compromising on the promises we have made around the environment. We recognise that we have a responsibility to minimise the impact of our flights and are focused on operating efficiently now, and on the development of electric aircraft in the future. In the interim, we continue to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights on behalf of our customers, and we’re proud to be the first major airline in the world to do so.”
Of course, cynics will call this is predictable corporate tosh hatched by wild-eyed PR people hungrily feasting on easyjet’s last dollar. Maybe. But I’m tempted to see the inclusion of sustainability in the three key messages as a harbinger of change for the good. A sort of cuckoo’s call for the start of a new spring in corporate commitment to sustainability.
Instead of the virtue-signalling practiced by so many companies, I’m looking forward to a genuine change in emphasis in support of policies that will cut carbon, promote a green recovery and, yes, be nice to people in the supply chains. It’s called respecting human rights and paying people properly.
Leading businesses have been lobbying for a green recovery programme in Europe, in support of the EU’s green deal. But we are yet to see direct consumer messaging on the importance of sustainability post-Covid.
Let’s hope easyjet’s message is a cuckoo’s call rather than the sighting of a single swallow (that did not make a spring).