The Many Sides of Sustainability – revisted

In early 2011 Oracle released a white paper on the “The Many Sides of Sustainability”

The following is quoted directly from the paper and refers to 2010 data…

Oracle White Paper

ess of how large or how profitable they are, businesses today do not stand alone. They are inextricably linked with the societies in which they operate. Every decision they make—whether it‘s to close a plant, move opera

tions to a different country or set a price for a new product—affects the surrounding community and the natural environment, for better or for worse.

Regulations resulting from corporate scandals, the rising influence of non-governmental organizations, environmental concerns and the fact that nearly one-third of the world‘s top 100 economic entities are corporations, not countries, have prompted the emergence of a new trend: Sustainability. How successfully companies embrace these concepts may well determine their ability to develop new markets, negotiate partnerships and compete for talent.

Consider these telling statistics:

 76 percent of executives surveyed in 2010 say sustainability contributes positively to shareholder value in the long term, and 50 percent see short-term value creation (McKinsey & Company).
 $1 out of every $9 under professional management in the United States now involves an element of ―socially responsible investment‖ (Geoffrey Heal, Columbia Business School).
 Over 2,600 organizations registered sustainability reports with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) through 2010
 Over 3,000 organizations voluntarily submitted data regarding greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in 2010

Broadly speaking, sustainability is a hot-button topic that‘s grabbing headlines from The Wall Street Journal to The Economist; yet it still means many things to many people. Some equate it with philanthropy, while others expand the definition to focus on regulatory compliance, business ethics and the environment. Even the terminology is diffuse, with Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Triple P (People, Planet, Profit), Triple Bottom Line and ―Being Green‖ often used interchangeably.

In this paper, we refer to ―sustainability as the umbrella term.

A business can only expect to receive stakeholder contributions, such as capital, labor, materials, infrastructure, customer business and government regulations, when it is prepared to meet stakeholder requirements, such as financial returns, a good place to work, and being a responsible citizen. A wider focus on the whole value chain ensures an efficient and effective business. At a strategic level, this approach can reconcile different—and sometimes conflicting—stakeholder objectives while building a foundation of trust in the process.

So how do you get there from here?”

We would appreciate your feedback on this last question, do you you think the GFC has slowed business and Government interest?  Should the sector be pleased with its accomplishments to date or do we need a little re-branding?

Your thoughts and comments are welcome and will help us frame the program for the 2013 conference.  We will publish all comments.

Angela Greene
The Association for Sustainability in Business Secretariat

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