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plant growing out of cracked earth showing sustainability

Do you hear certain buzzwords and immediately cringe? Words like “unprecedented”, “new normal”, and “resilient” can often be overused or in some cases misused. For instance, some might interpret “unprecedented” in a different context now. When language or phrases are overused, they lose their impact and there is burnout.

It’s hard not to notice the words “business resiliency” or “resilient” repeatedly used in many current news stories and business strategies. Companies are focused on business resiliency, re-opening, and getting back to a “new normal” post-pandemic. It seems everyone has jumped on board with this trend, including companies and major environment, health & safety, and sustainability consultants. They are razor focused on this term and trend, how it relates to their services, and how they can help their clients.

We politely disagree that this term is the best term to use right now. But more than that, when we researched the actual meaning in the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, we realized that not only does this term not fit our strategy, but instead we are unyielding which is an exact opposite antonym of resilient.


Definition of resilient

1: able to revert to original size and shape after being stretched, squeezed, or twisted.

The word resilient derives from the present participle of the Latin verb resilire, meaning "to jump back" or "to recoil."


Definition of unyielding (antonym of resilient):

1: showing no signs of slackening or yielding in one's purpose.

Synonyms for unyielding: determined, dogged, relentless, unappeasable, unflinching, unrelenting


If we aren’t focused on the meaning of things including these trends and key phrases, doesn’t meaning reflect directly into one’s purpose? And if you aren’t sure then you are wavering on your very sense of purpose and values as a company. What if the very term and phrase you are pursuing is in fact the opposite of your company values?

Instead of being resilient, meaning returning to a past state and quickly rebounding, we are unyielding. We are unyielding in our sense of purpose, in our values, and in our skills and service to our clients. We are unyielding in our fight against climate change, in our commitment to sustainability, in our ability to help our clients not only rebound but grow, thrive and become better stewards of the environment and health & safety on the other side of this pandemic. We will in no way rebound or recoil to a past state, we simply cannot. Everything has changed in 2020, including a renewed sense of urgency and commitment by companies to be stewards of the environment and create a more sustainable future.

As engineers, scientists, strategists, and consultants, we dissect things, we are detail-oriented, and we need to truly understand the meaning of language and how things fit together. We let science and data tell the story. And in this case, we are in some ways opposite from our competitors. We believed before the pandemic that we needed to pursue a more sustainable future in the fight against climate change, and that hasn’t changed; in fact, it is now becoming more business critical and crucial to the success of companies to be more transparent with their sustainability goals. Many of these goals are now being called “business resiliency” to rebound and succeed in the future post-pandemic world. We remain unyielding in our purpose and values, and we are going forwards not backwards. We will not “bounce back” or “rebound” but we will continue to innovate and move forward on climate change unyielding in our purpose. In fact, when we really think about it, it’s almost a blend of two opposite words in meaning that best represent us. We are resilient in our flexibility, adaptability, and in exploring new innovative approaches to solutions, yet we are unyielding in our sense of purpose and goals of a future sustainable world.

Words can change the world. Make sure you fully understand the meaning, and pick the right one. Now isn’t a time to assume anymore; we need to challenge ourselves and our thinking to make sure we align with the right terms and values. As we approach the post-pandemic era, we will continue to ensure that our actions and words match our intent, aspirations, and abilities to serve our clients in pursuing a more sustainable future.