What companies should aspire to in terms of Sustainability / CSR best practice

One lesson I learned very early on in my life was to have have dreams and aspire to something you feel is worthwhile for you as an individual. Personally I have these dreams and aspirations of course but what would this aspiration look like if we where to project it onto the corporate contact and it’s Sustainability / CSR best practice?

Recent examples ranging from the outrageous ousting of Jeffrey Hollender at Seventh Generation to BP and its monumental oil spill disaster and subsequent failure to react properly have not really helped to foster confidence in companies in my view. Many companies it seems have lost their aspirations to continuously do better and reach higher in terms of CSR / Sustainability best practice.

My top five aspirations to in terms of Sustainability / CSR best practice a company should have:

  1. Reporting on the Sustainability / CSR strategy and activities of the organisation is embedded in the organisational mind-set. To report means to be transparent and accountable towards your stakeholders as well as not trying to paint a rosy picture. The Sustainability / CSR report is a part of your stakeholder communication tools but not the only one.
  2. Have a CEO and a non-executive board of directors that understand what needs to be done to practice and promote responsible business in and outside of the company.
  3. A cycle of employee engagement is in place that reinforces the Sustainability / CSR activities and creates employees which are proud of what their company is doing and actively shape the future direction together with your senior leadership team.
  4. Have a new product innovation process that has the Sustainability / CSR idea and best practice at its core.
  5. Market and sell your product)s) with a clear distinctive Sustainability / CSR related message. Try to be authentic and not be hassled by financial goals that are violating your Sustainability / CSR values.

These are my top five aspirations a company should have in terms of Sustainability / CSR best practice. What are yours? What are aspects/aspirations you would like to add according to your experience?

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mind_scratch/2434031231

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  1. Nice list – can I suggest one more?

    As well as integrating CSR into new product development, there's a need to bring the axe down on current products which do not comply. That's the real sign of leadership IMHO.

  2. Dear Fabian,

    I would suggest to add stakeholder engagement.

    A company should have a stakeholder focus ensuring that throughout the value chain / supply chain the company will be judged on decent corporate citizenship.

    1. Yes stakeholder engagement is very important. For me the key ingredient in Sustainability / CSR is stakeholder engagement.

  3. I'd add giving leadership and HR staff training in recognizing the key human traits sustainability change agents exhibit.. and looking to develop those in existing staff and recruit new management and staff. This is a good topic to think on, Fabian!

    1. Thanks Andrea. For me it is about keeping it simple. That is why I like these lists. 🙂 Really good point abou the HR staff training, etc.

      1. Hi Fabian and Alexander (Fabian, Alexander and I know each other well :)!)

        CSR-HR =PR is an equation first used by Adine Mees and Jamie Bunham of CBSR in a publication for the WBCSD in 2005. It remains true !

        warm regards, elaine

        1. It would be really interesting to read that publication, du you have a link to it? I guess the challenge is to maintain both a social and an environmental responsibility. As CSR + HR – environment would still just be PR. One right doesn't right a wrong so to speak.

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