To achieve sustainability, Michelin contends that every business decision, technological innovation and product idea implemented have to touch all three elements. Something that benefits the bottom line but comes at a cost to the environment or the communities isn't sustainable in purpose or practice.
Conversely, decisions that routinely benefit the environment or people without allowing businesses to profit really isn't sustainable either.
Goodyear believes the same, and Jones echoed that message during his keynote speech given the first day of the International Tire Exhibition & Conference. Ultimately, he said, sustainability is a critical balancing act.
"I am going to talk about it a lot, but (profit is) a critical element of being a sustainable business," Jones said. "If you don't make money, you are not going to be in business very long."
And going out of business, he said candidly, isn't really a sustainable business plan.
Moreover, saying that profit shouldn't be considered in the bigger picture of a sustainable business plan isn't really honest, either. And most everyone, if they are honest with themselves, would agree. Even the NGOs.
"I will never forget," Jones said, "I was at the World Wildlife Fund, and we're meeting with them for the first time—we were engaging with an NGO. And the person sensed that we were a little nervous, and they leaned over to me and said, 'Ellis, we understand that you have to make money. We can't do the things we do if businesses don't make money.' "
The honesty of the statement resonated with Jones, just as the honesty of his statement regarding the balance of humanity, profit and the environment resonates with us.
And as long as tire makers are truly committed to transparent sustainability that benefits the world and its people as well as their bottom lines, we're excited to see the sustainable products and technologies they roll out.