Corporate sustainability

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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.[1] The strategies created are intended to foster longevity, transparency, and proper employee development within business organizations.[2]

Corporate sustainability is often confused with corporate social responsibility (CSR), though the two are not the same.[3][4]: 8  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.[5]


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).[6]

Achieving corporate sustainability[edit]


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.[7]

Stakeholder engagement[edit]

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.

Thinking ahead[edit]

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.

Increasing the number of women board members[edit]

A a 2012 study by the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business found that companies with a high number of female board members were more likely to reduce their environmental impact and improve energy efficiency.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Purkayastha, Debapratim (1 February 2019). In Search of the Triple Bottom line - Case Studies in Corporate Sustainability. IBS Case Research Center. ISBN 978-81-314-2847-4.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Hirst, Scott (1 October 2016). "Social Responsibility Resolutions". The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance Discussion Paper. No. 2016-06.
  5. ^ Bansal, Pratima, and Mark R. DesJardine. "Business sustainability: It is about time." Strategic Organization 12.1 (2014): 70-78.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Development Solutions: How to fight climate change with gender equality". European Investment Bank. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  9. ^ Tom, Pamela (15 November 2012). "More Female Board Directors Add Up to Improved Sustainability Performance". Haas News | Berkeley Haas. Retrieved 17 September 2020.


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