Corporate Sustainability â€“ Itâ€™s About Attitude
Having the right attitude can make a significant difference in life, and in business. A white paper published last week takes a close look at how businesses, especially their leaders, need to change their attitude toward sustainability in order to recognize the opportunities available to them.
â€œA New Mindset for Corporate Sustainability,â€ which was co-sponsored by BT and Cisco, was written by six academic experts from the United States, China, United Kingdom, Singapore and Spain. The title of the paper caught my attention immediately because of the phrase: â€œNew Mindset.â€ The paper addresses what I, and others close to CSR, believe is one of the biggest roadblocks to the broader adoption of sustainability strategies, namely an attitude that these practices are costly to businesses, inhibit growth and negatively impact the bottom line.
The paper presents sustainability as a catalyst for innovation. More specifically, innovation that can create new business models, open up new markets, produce a competitive advantage and improve profitability. In the end, the best part of the paper for me was the 16 â€œcase studiesâ€ that provide real-world examples of how some leading companies are innovating in the area of sustainability.
The paper also includes 10 steps companies should take to drive innovation via sustainability:
1. Make innovating for sustainability a part of your companyâ€™s vision
2. Formulate a strategy with sustainability at its heart
3. Embed sustainability in every part of your business
4. Walk the talk (actions speak louder than words)
5. Set up a body with the power to make sustainability matter
6. Set firm rules (code of conduct)
7. Bring stakeholders on board (and encourage participation)
8. Use people power
9. Join the (sustainability) networks
10. Think beyond reporting: align all business systems with the companyâ€™s vision of sustainability
While I didnâ€™t see anything appreciably new in these steps, it is a fairly comprehensive process that provides a practical, proven framework for companies to follow. The paper is available for download at Bigger Thinking / Innovation.