A Fast Company article titled What is ‘green hushing’? The new negative sustainability trend, explained recently caught our attention.
The article explains the practice of “green hushing,” which refers to the deliberate silence of companies about their sustainability goals for fear of being labeled greenwashers. The term, first coined in 2017, has gained more attention since Swiss carbon finance consultancy South Pole highlighted it in a report in October 2022. According to the report, almost a quarter of 1,200 companies with a sustainability head are not publicizing achievements “beyond the bare minimum.”
Green hushing stands in contrast to greenwashing, which involves exaggerating a company’s sustainability efforts. More and more organizations are being called out for greenwashing, which has led some companies to choose to be quieter about their sustainability goals.
However, stakeholders, including climate groups, corporations, and consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, have embraced sustainable efforts as part of a brand’s purpose and prioritize authenticity in their brand choices. Consumers are looking for accountability and transparency and would rather see progress over perfection.
Professor Xavier Font, an expert in sustainability marketing at the University of Surrey in the UK, explains that companies are not communicating environmental successes to consumers due to fears that it would make the company look less competent, or the customer would believe their experience would be worse. In essence, companies are hesitant to showcase their efforts to avoid negative publicity and backlash.
However, the lack of transparency and communication can also have negative effects on a company’s reputation. Ultimately, transparency and communication of progress are key in avoiding both greenwashing and green hushing claims.
Here are additional links to learn more:
- What is ‘greenhushing’ and is it really a cause for concern?
- Glossy 101: What is green hushing?
- ‘Green-hushing’ is the new greenwashing
- ‘Green hushing’ on the rise as companies keep climate plans from scrutiny