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Whelan and Fink's study discusses the topic of biodiversity and describes the related benefits. It aims to make a case for the integration of sustainability into corporate policy, thus fulfilling the overall aim of assuaging the audience's questions about sustainability.
The writers used an articulate and objective tone to communicate their message to the target audience, stating, "... executives are sometimes unable to put sustainability at the heart of their company's corporate plan in the misguided impression that the costs outweigh the benefits." Academic analysis and industry practice, on the other hand, indicate the very opposite” (Whelan and Fink). The authors draw their arguments from different studies ensuring that the information presented is factual and is not influenced by any personal bias. For instance, to make a case for sustainability, the writers refer to case studies on renowned companies such as Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, and Nike. In addition, the article has been presented in a formal scholarly voice, for instance, “Sustainable businesses are redefining the corporate ecosystem by designing models that create value for all stakeholders…” (Whelan and Fink). The language used in the article is quite simple and very easy to understand. To ensure the article is credible, the authors have used facts and backed their claims with findings from similar pieces of research in the field. Furthermore, the authors were affiliated with the Rainforest Alliance. In addition, Whelan is the Administrator of NYU Stern School of Business’s Center for Sustainable Business, while Fink is presently a member of Edelman PR Worldwide staff. Therefore, the writers are well conversant with the topic under study, thereby, credible.
The primary target audience is business owners, executives, and shareholders. However, the article can also appeal to a secondary audience such as the public looking to start up new businesses, as well as investors. The audience expects to be enlightened on the concept of sustainability, and perhaps, even get motivated to engage in sustainable practices. In addition, the audience expects that the arguments made by the authors are factual and can be corroborated such that the information can be used to inform decision-making. In other words, the audience expects that the authors provide cogent and credible evidence for their assertion.
Lastly, considering that the primary audience consists of executives who may grow impatient reading a long article, they expect the writers to summarize their main argument in the first few paragraphs, probably the introductory part. The audience believes that the costs associated with adopting sustainability strategies outweigh the associated benefits. Therefore, the audience’s perception is contrary to the authors’ point of view. On that note, the authors are trying to empower the audience to engage in sustainable practices by evoking emotions of optimism in the audience (Whelan and Fink). By highlighting the positive impacts of sustainability on organizational performance, a sense of optimism is communicated to the readers. Regardless, the authors are more focused on appealing to their audience’s logic as opposed to emotions.
The piece purposes to alleviate any concerns that the audience might have as regards adopting sustainable business practices. It was written to counter the common yet mistaken belief that the costs associated with sustainability are higher than the benefits. The article is timely because, in the 21st century, businesses are struggling to maintain their bottom line yet one of the most practical strategies, that is, sustainability, which has multiple benefits, is not being practiced (Whelan and Fink). The writers want the audience to believe that the benefits of sustainable practices outweigh the costs. The article has incorporated information from similar pieces of research in the field, for instance, “Nike embedded sustainability into its innovation process and created the $1 billion-plus Flyknit line, which uses a specialized yarn system, requiring minimal labor and generating large profit margins.” The piece has also employed distinctive textual features. For example, the use of alliteration, “Studies also suggest that companies with strong corporate…” (Whelan and Fink). In addition, parenthesis has also been used, “…humidity—all of which ensure the long-term supply of their agricultural products.” Furthermore, the reference to the “2008 recession” indicates the use of allusion (Whelan and Fink).
The piece is organized in an introduction, body conclusion structure. The introduction gives the background information on sustainability and states the thesis statement. To illustrate the business case, the authors have used headings to transition from one argument to the other. Lastly, the conclusion summarizes the major claims made in the report. The arguments are made sequentially in cohesive paragraphs, thereby creating a flow. The document is designed in a white space that has texts in black and blue written on it. The article is in 12 point Times New Roman font and has approximately 1000 words (Whelan and Fink). In addition, the piece has included a graphic at the beginning the article. Specifically, the writers have used an image of a man pointing to the globe. Interpreting what the image illustrates is rather difficult but one can speculate that the man is directing the audience to lean towards global sustainability.
Lastly, to write such an article, it is important to identify the objective of the report and the target audience. Furthermore, one needs to collect all the relevant information prior to writing the report. The writer will then develop a clear thesis in the introductory paragraph. In the body paragraphs, one will document arguments in support of the thesis. Also, it is important to make clear transitions from one thought or paragraph to the other, using headings or transitionary words. Finally, the writer needs to make an overall conclusion to the stated arguments.
Whelan, Tensie, and Carly Fink. "The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability." Harvard Business Review, 21 Oct. 2016, HBR. hbr.org/2016/10/the-comprehensive-business-case-for-sustainability. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.
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