This article contains instructions, advice, or how-to content. (May 2014)
Corporate sustainability is an approach aiming to create long-term stakeholder value through the implementation of a business strategy that focuses on the ethical, social, environmental, cultural, and economic dimensions of doing business. The strategies created are intended to foster longevity, transparency, and proper employee development within business organizations.
Corporate sustainability is often confused with corporate social responsibility (CSR), though the two are not the same. Bansal and DesJardine (2014) state that the notion of ‘time’ discriminates sustainability from CSR and other similar concepts. Whereas ethics, morality, and norms permeate CSR, sustainability only obliges businesses to make intertemporal trade-offs to safeguard intergenerational equity. Short-termism is the bane of sustainability.
The phrase is derived from the concept of "sustainable development" and the "triple bottom line." The Brundtland Commission's Report, Our Common Future, 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 gradually became central to business philosophies.
Within academic management circles, Elkington (1997) developed the concept of the Triple Bottom Line which proposes that business goals were inseparable from the societies and environments within which they operate. While short-term economic gains could be pursued, failure to account the social and environmental impacts of these pursuits is believed to make those business practices unsustainable.
Measuring corporate sustainability is possible through composite indicators that cover environmental, social, corporate governance and economic measures. One way of assessing corporate sustainability is through the Complex Performance Indicator (CPI).
Achieving corporate sustainability
This concept proposes that by having an engaging environment within a company and within the community it operates will improve performance and increase profits. This can be attained through open communications with stakeholders characterized by high levels of information disclosure, clarity, and accuracy.
This is attained when a company educates its employees and outside stakeholders (customers, suppliers, and the entire community) and move them to act on matters such as waste reduction or energy efficiency.
Envisioning the future enables companies to generate fresh ideas for implementation. These ideas can either reduce productions costs, increase profits, or provide a better image for the organization.
- Ashrafi, M., Acciaro, M., Walker, T. R., Magnan, G. M., & Adams, M. (2019). Corporate sustainability in Canadian and US maritime ports. Journal of Cleaner Production, 220, 386-397.
- Ashrafi, M., Adams, M., Walker, T. R., & Magnan, G. (2018). How corporate social responsibility can be integrated into corporate sustainability: a theoretical review of their relationships. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 25(8), 672-682.
- Bansal, Pratima, and Mark R. DesJardine. "Business sustainability: It is about time." Strategic Organization 12.1 (2014): 70-78.
- Dočekalová, M. P.; Kocmanová, A. (2016). "Composite indicator for measuring corporate sustainability". Ecological Indicators. 61: 612–623. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.10.012.
- Schnackenberg, A.; Tomlinson, E. (2014). "Organizational Transparency: A New Perspective on Managing Trust in Organization-Stakeholder Relationships". Journal of Management. 42 (7): 1784–1810. doi:10.1177/0149206314525202.
- "Measuring corporate sustainability", by G Atkinson, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 2000.
- "Beyond the business case for corporate sustainability", by T Dyllick, K Hockerts, in Business Strategy and the Environment, 2002.
- "Concepts and definitions of CSR and corporate sustainability", M Van Marrewijk, Journal of Business Ethics, 2003.
- "Organizational change for corporate sustainability", by DC Dunphy, A Griffiths, S Benn, London: Routledge Publishing, 2003.
- Werbach, Adam. Strategy for Sustainability: a Business Manifesto. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business, 2009. Print.
- "Strengthen Your Business by Developing Your Employees", by Leslie Levine—Business Resources, Advice and Forms for Large and Small Businesses, 2010
- "Walmart Sustainability Report 2010 - Environment - Waste." Walmartstores.com. Web. 1 July 2010.
- "Handbook on Corporate Social Responsibility in India", Sachin Shukla et al - PwC India, 2013.
- International Society of Sustainability Professionals - Non-profit association supporting sustainability professionals