No matter your organization's industry, size, or age, if corporate sustainability is not an established organizational priority, the vitality of your organization is in jeopardy. An increasing number of organizations are choosing to approach business more holistically. Consequently, the traditional bottom line approach, where costs and earnings are mechanically reviewed on a quarterly or annual basis, is gaining a deserved reputation for being outdated and disconnected from the realities of today's evolving world.
Corporate sustainability is not about throwing concern for profit to the wind, or going into the red in the name of environmentalism. Realistically, an organization must make more money than it spends to even be in a position to contribute to sustainable commerce. Rather, corporate sustainability is about proactively creating new opportunities to add value and enable more investment, innovation, and incentives for customers to choose you over your competitors.
A sustainable organization should have these ongoing discussions, both internally among decision-makers, and among external stakeholders like shareholders, customers, vendors, utility providers, suppliers, and the larger community in which it is located and depends on for its workforce. Although an important consideration, corporate sustainability encompasses many things beyond reducing carbon footprint. When approached correctly, a sustainable organization looks to things like waste of all types, efficiency (or inefficiency) in operations, management practices, and business decisions that lead to cost savings, energy savings, and reductions in unfavorable impacts on natural and human resources.
Corporate sustainability truly requires an "all hands on deck approach" where employees at all levels – from the board room to the production floor – are involved, invested, and included in the process. Knowledge, experience, and data from all departments are needed to effectively assess inefficiencies, measure the variables contributing to the inefficiencies, design a plan to address the inefficiencies, and implement controls to prevent re-occurrence of the inefficiencies once cured.
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