CSR+Sustainability is On the Rise

May 13, 2010 5:00 PM ET

Communications4Good Blog

According to recent research conducted by Boston Center for Corporate Citizenship, McKinsey, and the Entrepreneurs Foundation's 2010 Corporate Citizenship Report (which I helped research, write, analyze and present), data consistently shows that sustainability is gaining traction inside corporations.  The initial appearance and implementation of sustainability can begin inside Environment Health and Safety (EHS) departments, as a special branding and marketing campaign, within a product development task force, or as a supply chain initiative.  Where it starts doesn’t matter.  Once the sustainability mindset takes root inside two or more groups in a corporation, consistent and credible communications are required.  A new “language of goodness” that incorporates social, environmental and profit programs, and creates linkages between them to accelerate change and increase benefits. 

A Shifting Sustainability Definition

The Business Roundtable’s S.E.E.(Society, Environment, Economy) Change program defines sustainability as “maintaining the balance between the human need to improve the quality of life and standard of living of current generations, and the need to preserve natural resources, and ecosystems for the economic growth, and well-being of future generations.”

Many would add that these generations, both current and present, extend beyond the human species to all living species and need to be accounted for in all triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) companies.  Ray Anderson, founder and Chairman of InterfaceFLOR, describes his company’s journey to sustainability in his recent book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist.  As he often says, “if we can do it, anybody can. If anybody can, then it follows that everybody can.”

McKinsey’s Global Survey on Sustainability makes it clear that the lack of a consistent definition and shared language are creating blocks to deployment within companies.

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