What is business sustainability?This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme (BSP). This programme was launched shortly after the first Rio Earth Summit and its aim was to show that the contribution from the business community is critical to the sustainability debate. Since then the programme has influenced over 2,200 leaders representing some 1,000 organisations from more than 75 countries. Business sustainability is often defined as a process by which companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities. Their impacts are sometimes referred to as profits, people and planet. Time which is inherent within business sustainability should also be taken into account: will the business remain strong once involved in healthy economic, social and environmentally friendly systems?
What are the benefits of being green?Companies who chose to implement green strategies were generously rewarded. After Marks & Spencer adopted environmental and ethical business guidelines, the company earned an extra £50 million in revenue. Coca-Cola's efforts to cut down on packaging saved the company $100 million. In December 2008, Environmental Defence Fund and Frost & Sullivan conducted a survey of energy efficient business leaders on the topic of renewable energy: Of 500 respondents, 42% said their sales have increased over the past one to two years and an equal number said that their sales have remained the same. Sustainable firms have been shown to attract and retain employees more easily and experience less financial and reputational risk. They tend to be more innovative and adaptive to their environments. By applying sustainable business principles, they can achieve: economic efficiency (innovation, prosperity, and productivity), social equity (poverty, community, health and wellness, human rights) and environmental accountability (climate change, land use, biodiversity).
Is it still relevant?Environmental Corporate Social Responsibility is far more than just being relevant. Rather, this is a proactive, coherent global movement which reshapes the global profile of business. Business has gone global in recent decades, and so has the idea of practising of corporate responsibility. A company's long-term financial success is globally understood to go hand in hand with its policy on social responsibility, environmental management and corporate ethics. Environmental, social and governance responsibilities are no longer add-ons for business. Instead, they became key factors to its success. This movement consists of five key directions:
- Transparency: Better reporting which is driven by lower barriers to information access, higher public interest and regulatory changes
- Trust: As citizens and consumers expect corporate power to be exerted responsibly, building trust has now become vital for the corporate community.
- Community participation: Companies are expected to do more in areas that used to be the exclusive domain of the public sector. Community participation encompasses recycling, collaboration with scientists, civil society and public regulators, and even the use of price tags.
- Access to new markets responsibly: With economic growth migrating southward and eastward, overcoming barriers to growth, such as civil violence, an uneducated workforce and unsustainable sources of energy, water, minerals and soil is now beneficial to business.
- Initiatives to engage companies: Green initiatives, standards and consultancies are booming at national and global levels.
What can be done to encourage Environmental Corporate Social Responsibility?Maybe you should think of what your company can do to improve its sustainability: Has it implemented a green strategy? How do you avoid creating energy, paper, water and general waste? Does your business practise recycling? Is your carbon footprint taken into account?
A helpful check-listWe have prepared an interactive check-list that will help you see how green your business is and what you can do to improve. This check-list compasses 36 questions including: “Is there a recycling station in every office?” “Does everyone produce double-sided documents?”. If you would like a free copy of our check-list feel free to send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about Wolfestone's values and how the company makes a difference in the industry. How "green" is your company? Let us know in the comments below. Written by Tony Casteleyn
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