Until recently environmentally and socially responsible business management was mainly driven by external demands. Businesses reacted to customer requests, public awareness campaigns, or a need to cut down water or energy expenses with single projects or PR initiatives. Today the situation is different. Making sustainability an intrinsic part of their corporate culture has become a reality for many businesses.
Many studies have pointed out that socially and environmentally responsible behavior has become a competitive differentiator for businesses. High performance companies are more likely to have sustainable practices integrated into their business strategy, day-to-day operations, and employee/customer/community relations.
But companies are not only judged by their economic performance alone. Employees, customers, communities, and investors are increasingly looking for additional assets that make up the value of a company. These assets include environmental engagement, human resources policies, ethical values, and community involvement as well as intangible assets such as reputation, brand, trust, and credibility.
In addition to that companies are increasingly being held responsible for their entire supply chain on social issues. This will require businesses to comply with voluntary sustainability standards, thoroughly review the sustainable principles of their vendors, and to promote a more thoughtful use of natural resources. (Source: Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Board of Board CEOs Conference, 2010)
Successful businesses understand that sustainability is more than just what you do. They refer to sustainability as a certain mindset that can be applied to all areas of your business. Sustainability has to be fully aligned with your mission and values, your standards of operational procedures, and your relationships with your employees, customers, and community.