Corporate sustainability

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Corporate Sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term consumer and employee value by not only creating a "green" strategy aimed towards the natural environment, but taking into consideration every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment. Also formulating strategies to build a company that fosters longevity through transparency and proper employee development.

Corporate sustainability is an evolution on more traditional phrases describing ethical corporate practice. Phrases such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) or corporate citizenship continue to be used but are increasingly superseded by the broader term, corporate sustainability. Unlike the other phrases that focus on "added-on" policies, corporate sustainability describes business practices built around social and environmental considerations.

The phrase is derived from two keys sources. The Brundtland Commission's Report – Our Common Future which described sustainable development as, "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". This desire to grow without damaging future generations' prospects is becoming more and more central to business philosophies.

Within more academic management circles Elkington (1999) developed the concept of the Triple Bottom Line which proposed that business goals were inseparable from the societies and environments within which they operate. Whilst short-term economic gain could be chased, a failure to account for social and environmental impacts would make those business practices unsustainable.

Strategy for Corporate Sustainability[edit]

Business Case for Sustainability[edit]

The challenge for many businesses in this new field is to quantify the positive impacts of sustainability. Dr. Bob Willard, a business thought leader in this area openly shares resources to help sustainability champions build the case for sustainability. Dr. Willard has quantified that sustainability can increase revenue, reduce energy expenses, reduce waste expenses, reduce materials and water expenses, increase employee productivity, reduce hiring and attrition expenses, and reduce strategic and operational risks.[1]


Deals with the idea that by having an engaging and open environment within the company as well as the community will improve performance and increase profits. It is an open culture that promotes employee involvement in regards to the innovation and creative processes. Reaching out to the community creates a much bigger team, is extremely cheap, and provides evaluation from all angles. Companies are looking inward and realizing changes must be made to fulfill environment needs such as energy efficiency, limiting product waste and toxicity, and designing innovative products.

Stakeholder Engagement[edit]

Sustainability requires a company to look both internally and externally to understand their environmental and social impacts. This requires the engagement of various stakeholder to understand impacts and concerns. A business can address sustainability internally by educating employees and seeking to reduce impacts through waste reduction, energy efficiency, etc. Employee engagement can be a powerful motivator by having a philanthropy committee or a green team. As a company looks externally, stakeholders include customers, suppliers, community, and non-government organizations.

Thinking ahead[edit]

Companies must adapt to this rapidly changing environment by being prepared to change and implement new creative ideas related to sustainability. Companies should not throw away old products and materials, but rather be prepared with upgraded technology that can transform the product. New solutions that improve recycling and waste redirecting can ultimately reduce costs and increase profits. For example, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has redirected more than 64 percent of the waste generated by stores and Sam’s Club facilities. In 2009 alone, they recycled more than 1.3 million pounds of aluminum, 120 million pounds of plastics, 11.6 million pounds of mixed paper and 4.6 billion pounds of cardboard. On an annual basis, they expect to save around $20 million and prevent 38 million pounds of waste being sent to landfills.


Companies focused on sustainability are appointing a Chief Sustainability Officer leading a department with a mandate to proactively develop and implement a corporate sustainability strategy.[2]

The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) is a professional association dedicated to the education and progression of the sustainability profession.[3]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]