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A Guide to Effective Corporate Sustainability

Gauri Sharma

By Payal Rajpal

A Guide to Effective Corporate Sustainability

The 21st Century is quickly redefining the meaning of “responsible”. In the age of climate change, limited natural resources, risk of global food shortages and increasing socio-economic inequality, society is calling for a “better” world.

All stakeholders have a role to play. In recent years, we’re increasingly seeing companies take action by bringing effective corporate sustainability to the heart of their business purpose. But with many players involved, how can companies use their unique abilities to ensure they are contributing to this “better” world?

Business-aligned sustainability

It’s common to see companies invest in ad-hoc sustainability activities that have a limited connect to their technical expertise. There is no doubt these investments deliver genuine impact; however, a company may be better served to tie responsible practices to their key skills.

By doing so, companies not only address global challenges and create positive impact, but also generate business benefits – through brand loyalty, risk mitigation, operational cost savings, increased worker productivity and even new revenue streams. When sustainability drives business, everyone wins in the long-run.

Focus on innovation

The corporate sector is best positioned to take risks. Companies often have larger resource pools, easier decision-making processes, more flexible mandates and some of the world’s best minds in-house.

By pushing the envelope and finding out-of-the box ways to address key sustainability issues, business can help reinvent entire systems with sustainability at the core. And if a company’s ultimate goal is to be at the leading edge in its industry, innovations in corporate sustainability are a great way to get there.

Collaborate with experts

Every stakeholder in the sustainability eco-system has a critical role to play. NGOs have a deep understanding of issues and can easily build trust in communities. Governments have the money, mandate and ability to scale.  Multi-laterals push new agendas and can bring an international lens to the table.

By working together with multiple players we are able to complement each other, find the best solutions, and multiple impact exponentially.  The world is inter-connected, and so too are the solutions to its most pressing problems.

Communicate commitments

We often hear that companies are afraid to communicate their efforts in case they miss their targets, or worse, are accused of “green-washing”. However, the benefits of communicating corporate sustainability far outweigh these risks.

By talking about sustainability successes, and failures, companies are making their commitments public, demonstrating accountability and transparency in the process. Communications creates a leading voice among peers, and the public, galavanising a new, sustainable way that business can be conducted.

This is article was originally published in Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy's (CAP) Q1 News Magazine for 2016