The scope of corporate responsibility is changing and sustainability efforts are no longer limited to companies like Ben & Jerry’s. Today, large organizations must consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of their actions. Operating according to sustainability principles is now seen as a way to add value for shareholders. Organizations are grappling with how to ensure that day-to-day activities meet sustainability goals that will eventually improve their financial performance. In Making Sustainability Work, Marc J. Epstein and Adriana Rejc Buhovac provide a framework for an organization to develop and implement a sustainability program, and provide guidance on measuring program impacts so that the organization can continually improve its sustainability efforts. while improving your bottom line.
With careful planning and stakeholder buy-in, sustainability – improving the impacts a business has on the environment, the economy, and society – can be turned into a competitive advantage. There are several best practices that companies should adopt for their sustainability programs:
1. Sustainability includes all the social, environmental, and economic impacts of a corporation’s operations. With the right measurements and analysis, a corporation can implement a plan that mitigates impacts, satisfies multiple stakeholder groups, and improves the corporation’s financial performance. The Corporate Sustainability Model is designed to help managers understand the cause and effect relationships that result from aspects of the sustainability program.
2. Supporting a sustainability program starts at the top. The board and CEO must show commitment to sustainability efforts and help translate the concepts into corporate culture. Your support can also help the corporation get various stakeholders (shareholders, employees, customers, and community members) to support the program.
3. Sustainability practices must be integrated into all business functions so that meeting sustainability goals is a system-wide effort. For example, procurement can work to find sustainable sources of supplies, and engineering can change ways of manufacturing that require less water or produce less waste.
4. The costs and risks of sustainability must be integrated into decision-making. The current and future costs and benefits of any sustainability effort must be measured and tracked. Any environmental, political or other risks related to sustainability must also be analyzed and taken into account in every decision.
5. Organizations should measure and evaluate sustainability performance by evaluating individual workers, equipment, facilities, and business units. By focusing on sustainability performance, the company emphasizes the importance of those goals and provides feedback on how to improve sustainability efforts.
6. An organization must find ways to measure its social, environmental and economic impact on society to improve management decision making. Such measurements can be difficult, but there are several methods available to help the organization determine the value of its efforts.