NEW YEAR, NEW RESPONSIBILITIES - ON CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY

As 2014 gets left behind, there is much to look forward to in the corporate world for year 2015. With internet technology growing in universal usage, another corporate concept is popularized along with it: Corporate Sustainability (CS). Coming from a branch of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), corporate sustainability zooms in on environmental stewardship. CSR ,as the overarching umbrella, is defined as “the continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large” according to theWorld Business Council for Sustainable Development

There is no doubt that there is an information overload following the advent of the internet. With information accessible and readily available on the web faster than ever, consumers have become increasingly aware of what businesses are doing today; it has become part of their decision making process of whether or not to buy a product or a service. With news reporting exposing businesses that harm the environment, the Information Age has offered its way to hold corporations accountable. Suddenly, businesses are incentivized by consumers to be accountable for the possible harm done to the environment caused by its day-to-day operations. From looking at things like energy metering to what materials are being used to make the products, consumers are trending to businesses that engage in corporate sustainability. It has changed the dynamics between consumer and producer relations forever.

But with a new wave of issues, come a new way of looking at CS. Being a sustainably responsible corporation seems to be the nascent way of thinking during this time period. In essence, it is to uphold “sustainability [principles] that assures intergenerational equity,” according to an article by Huffington Post. Corporations that integrated this way of thinking into their businesses are seen as modern and progressive. The article continues with saying, “The only moral imperative that grounds sustainability is the need to balance the short and long-term supply and demand of resources.” Not only will corporations be seen as forward thinkers of the 21st century, but it also puts into perspective the concern for future generations.Wharton University of Pennsylvania found that over 8,000 businesses around the world have taken the pledge with the United Nations Global Compact in efforts to show transparency in areas of human rights, labor standards and environmental protection. The study also found that “77% of consumers say it is important for companies to be socially responsible."

In the EPA’s National Top 100 Green Power Partnership, amongst the top five are Intel, Kohl’s, Microsoft, Google, and Wal-Mart. Not only did these corporations achieve recognition for their energy efficiency efforts, but they also receive free publicity by the EPA. As the Huffington Post article wrote, “Not only will this help firms survive over the long term, it will help them thrive.”

Do you think corporate sustainability is a moral obligation given the climate situation?
Is it at odds with Wall Street’s agenda?

How small can a company be to still have effective sustainability practices?

What do the different generations (Boomers, Generation X, Millennials) have to say about corporate sustainability?