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CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY A New Frontier. DEFINITIONS. Sustain To give support to Support the weight of Keep up or prolong To bear up under Sustaining Aiding in the support of an organization through a special fee (sustaining member) Sustained yield

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  • Sustain
    • To give support to
    • Support the weight of
    • Keep up or prolong
    • To bear up under
  • Sustaining
    • Aiding in the support of an organization through a special fee (sustaining member)
  • Sustained yield
    • Production of a biological resource under management procedures which insure replacement of the part harvested by regrowth or reproduction (ca. 1905)
what is sustainability
What is Sustainability?
  • “Meeting our society’s needs in ways that don’t compromise the ability of future generations to meet theirs.”
  • “At its core, sustainability is about being responsible with resources – people, land, energy, water, materials and capital.”

Clark S. Davis, Vice Chairman – HOK, “A Green Convergence: Linking Environmental and Organizational Sustainability,” Horizons, RubinBrown, Spring 2009.

what is sustainability1
What is Sustainability?
  • “The word sustainability is all too often confused with simple survival in challenging economic conditions …”
  • “Now is the time for the forward thinking organization to assess the market, look at competitors and evaluate its long-term plan.”
  • “Keys to sustainability are customer satisfaction and satisfaction of your personnel.”

John F. Herber, Jr., Horizons, RubinBrown, Spring 2009.

stakeholders u s public organizations

Shareholders (Institutions --- Individuals)

Bond holders


Employees (including unions)

Other capital sources (venture capitalists)

Supply chain


Alliance partners

Direct suppliers

Upstream suppliers





Occupation Health and Safety



Accounting standards (FASB, IASB, PCAOB)



Federal government

State & local governments

International governments

United Nations





Local communities

General public


Charitable organizations

Environmental & social organizations

Stakeholders U.S. Public Organizations
corporate sustainability reporting csr
Corporate Sustainability Reporting (CSR)
  • Beginnings – highly unstructured
  • 1997 – Global Reporting Initiative
    • Amsterdam-based nonprofit organization
    • Increased rigor and comparability
      • Extends from crafting a CSR to specific performance indicators
      • Primary areas
        • economic, environmental, social performance (labor practices) human rights, society, and product responsibility
        • Strongly supported and implemented in Europe
    • Currently in Version 3 of Global Reporting Standards for CSR

profile of csr sustainability reporting guidelines version 3
Profile of CSRSustainability Reporting Guidelines(Version 3)
  • Strategy and analysis
  • Organizational profile
  • Report parameters
  • Governance, commitments, and engagements
  • Management approach & performance indicators
    • Reporting on trends
    • Use of protocols
    • Presentation of data
    • Data aggregation
    • Metrics
sustainability reporting expanded listing
Sustainability ReportingExpanded Listing
  • Integration to strategic planning – What is “strategic management?”
    • External orientation
    • Focus on strengths
    • Prepare for unknown developments
      • Business Continuity Planning
      • Disaster Recovery
      • Data backup
    • Ability to adapt
  • Economic/financial
  • Environmental
  • Social performance (labor rights)
    • Compensation and benefits
    • Diversity
  • Human rights
  • Products & services
  • Product responsibility
  • Society (overall impact)
csr assurance standards
  • Purpose = creditability of reports
  • Flexible approach
    • Internal systems (including internal audit)
    • External assurance (published conclusions on quality of the report and information contained)
        • Processes for preparation of report
        • Assess validity of quality of performance by organization
      • Professional assurance providers (including but not limited to CPAs)
      • Stakeholder panels
      • Others
qualities of external assurance
Qualities of External Assurance
  • Competent external groups or individuals
  • Systematic, documented, evidence based approach
  • Assessment of reasonableness of CSR performance evaluation
    • Quality of data
    • Selection of items covered
  • Completed by individuals independent of organization or stakeholders
  • Report follows GRI Reporting Framework
  • Results in written, publicly available opinion
    • Also includes statement assurance provider about relationship to the organization
final thoughts
Final Thoughts

“… leading companies view social and environmental responsiveness as an asset and an opportunity, not as a liability or cost. They recognize that an investment in the structures and systems to ensure strong social and environmental performance often pays dividends in terms of improved process and production quality, improved production efficiency and yields, improved innovation, lower risk, improved reputation, and increased profitability.”

Marc. J. Epstein, “Implementing Corporate Sustainability: Measuring and Managing Social and Environmental Impacts.” Strategic Finance, January 2009

final thoughts continued
Final ThoughtsContinued
  • “A lean strategy is the relentless pursuit to eliminate waste in all business processes.”
    • Traditionally used on the “plant” floor
    • Today, throughout the organization
  • “Companies that have implemented lean are finding sustainability initiatives an easy extension of this philosophy.”

Mike Lewis, Horizons, RubinBrown, Spring 2009.

examples of csr
Examples of CSR
  • Starbucks
    • Reports have been issued since 2001
    • An extensive CSR report
    • Follows GRI guidelines (Version 3)
    • Includes prior goals and performance indicators
    • Includes independent assurance report
      • Moss Adams, LLP (Accounting and Consulting firm)
        • Since 2002
    • Establishes 2015 goals

examples of csr1
Examples of CSR
  • Royal Dutch Shell
    • Reports have been issued since 1997
    • An extensive CSR report
    • Follows GRI guidelines (Version 3)
    • Includes prior goals and performance indicators
    • Assurance
      • Internal controls established to validate information
      • External review committee report included in the report (estab. in 2005)
        • Objective is to insure report is balanced, relevant, and responsive
        • Independence is not clear