Sustainable Business

What is Corporate Sustainability?

Corporate Sustainability is a business approach to create long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. Corporate sustainability leaders harness the market’s potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks.

Source: Dow Jones Sustainability Index Guidebook

In order to be ahead of the curve in this area and create a competitive advantage, The Declaration of Leadership from Gil Friend, CEO of Nat Logic, is a good manifesto to use as a framework.

Gil Friends says,

This Declaration of Leadership challenges already good companies, developers, designers and public authorities to even higher levels of thinking, aspiration and performance — to move beyond slowing our decline, to invent and implement the ways to win the race to sustainability.

Sustainable Business – Declaration of Leadership

Because:

– the well being of our economy fundamentally depends on the services from nature that support it,
– business activity has a profound impact on the ability of nature to sustainably provide those services,
– we are committed, as business and community leaders, to the well being of both economic and ecological systems, of both humans and other living things,
– we believe that these goals are compatible (and where they seem to be incompatible, we are committed to finding better ways to do business that make them compatible).

We envision our company, suppliers and customers, and our community doing business in ways that:

– preserve, protect and ultimately enhance the living systems — of this region, and the planet — that sustain our business and the larger human economy
– provide ever greater value in meeting the real needs of our customers, suppliers and communities
– meet human needs in the most efficient and economical means possible, in order to include the greatest percentage of humanity.

To do this we will:

– consider the requirements of the earth’s living systems in all design and operating decisions
– not take more from the earth than it can sustainably provide
– not provide to the earth more than it can sustainably absorb
– analyze the life cycle operating costs and impacts of our facilities, operations and products/services, as well as their initial costs
– work to eliminate “waste” of all kinds from our operations, and to find safe, productive uses for any “non-product” that we are not yet able to eliminate
– treat employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders fairly, honestly and respectfully
– take responsibility for the safety of our products/services in their intended use
– take responsibility for the safety of our activities for employees and communities
– take responsibility for the safe “end of life” recovery and reuse or recycling or our products
– design our facilities, operations and products/services to be ever more efficient, ever less dependent on materials and activities that poison, degrade or encroach on living systems, and ever more supportive of these approaches
– do all these in a way that supports our economic well-being, and the economic well-being of those who depend on us

We will measure our progress by the trends of our

– resource productivity [unit of benefit provided per unit of resource used]
– “non-product” output [amounts & toxicity of “unsaleable” materials and chemicals]
– net carbon emissions [production of climate changing greenhouse gasses]
– ecological footprint [demand on earth’s regenerative capacity]
– profit, both near and long term

We will pursue these steps with a commitment to

– future generations
– continuous improvement
– open dialogue with our customers, stockholders, suppliers, and communities