Leadership, CSR and Sustainability (Part 1)

“Business” is

“Business” is no longer solely about profit for shareholders..........

“Business” is no longer solely about profit for shareholders, it is also about focussing on alignment of stakeholder value. 

Sustainability is fundamental to humanity’s and an organisation’s survival. 

Whilst there is debate as to whether “sustainability” is separate to (or included in) the definition of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), it is reasonable to argue that it is. 

Scope of CSR & Theoretical Concepts and Frameworks for CSR and Sustainability 

The narrow definition of “corporate” can and should be expanded to the wider sense “of, relating to, or formed into a unified body of individuals” – CSR does not just apply to business, but from the individual level all the way up to the global perspective. 

The Triple Bottom Line model encourages the wider contextual thinking of CSR. 

Profit – Planet – People 

Whilst for clients, “profit” may be their perceived primary consideration, the Triple Bottom Line encourages them to plan for, assess and report on business performance based upon all three elements. “Profit” is but one factor, contingent upon the other two. 

1) Planet 

A sustainable planet supports sustainable life and sustainable profit, and they are all mutually inclusive. 

Climate change has brought into sharp focus the need to sustain the life-giving systems of our planet by reducing emissions, pollution, population growth, recycling (particularly plastics) and exploring new ways to generate non-polluting, sustainable energy sources. 

Delicate global ecosystems (forestry, oceans, atmosphere) must be regenerated protected. To do otherwise is unsustainable and socially intolerable. 

2) People (society) 

People who are healthy, working in healthy and safe conditions, who feel, and are, respected, regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender, sex, orientation, identity and whose privacy is protected, are going to be happier, more engaged, more loyal and productive than those who are not (eg those on zero-hour contracts or subsistence wages). 

Opportunities for personal development should abound. Education is a key determinant of societal and commercial growth.

Alignment of stakeholder interests is the paradigm, and all stakeholders can benefit from a society with inclusive values. 

This must be a global initiative and supported by all elements of society – the individual, the family, communities, business, government, and should be fundamental conversation in any consultancy relationship. 

Philanthropic, voluntary, and charitable behaviours are an important feature CSR – giving back to society does much for both donor and recipient. 

In part 2 of this series, we’ll explore the inter-relationship of Profit on the Triple Bottom Line.

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