Adam Werbach wrote an article in the McKinsey Quarterly last year entitled “When Sustainability Means More Than Green”. It’s common for people to immediately think of “going green”: recycling, conserving energy and anything that has to do with the environment, when hearing the word ‘sustainability’. What many don’t know is that sustainability is more than just ‘going green’. Werbach states that “companies must consider their social, economic and cultural impact as well” as protecting the environment (McKinsey 74).
Werbach tells us that society has great expecations of successful corporations, and holds them accountable for overcoming the challenges facing our planet today, and in the future. Overcoming these challenges is more than just corporate responsibility, it’s survival. Short-term thinking is the reason why many corporations have not been able to meet the challenges, and sustain themselves. The auto industry is a good example of this.
Sustainability used to mean steadily increasing earnings for a business. Today, Werbach uses sustainability to mean driving “a bottom-line strategy to save costs, a top-line strategy to reach a new consumer base, and a talent strategy to get, keep, and develop creative employees” (McKinsey 75). He breaks it down into four components: social, economic, environmental and cultural. Though it’s difficult to implement sustainability initiatives in this economic climate, now is the perfect time to take advantage of establishing a sustainability strategy, putting tracking measures in place and planning for the future.
Werbach ends the article with this thought: “Every crisis is an opportunity. The crisis we face now is our chance – your chance – to build a strategy for sustainability into the core of your company and your life. Such a strategy is a necessity, not an idealistic solution” (McKinsey 79).
What do you think? Is Werbach right? Should companies be focused on short-term strategy for generating revenue, or long-term strategy for sustainability?
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Statement from the most senior decision-maker of the organization about relevance of sustainability to the organization and the organization’s strategy for addressing sustainability
Name of the organization
Primary brands, products, and services
Location of organization’s headquarters
Number of countries where the organization operates, and names of countries with significant operations or that are specifically relevant to the sustainability topics covered in the report
Nature of ownership and legal form
Scale of the reporting organization
Total workforce by employment type, employment contract, and region, broken down by gender
Percentage of total employees covered by collective bargaining agreements
Description of the organization’s supply chain
Significant changes during the reporting period regarding organization's size, structure, ownership, or supply chain
Whether and how the precautionary approach or principle is addressed by the organization
Externally developed economic, environmental, and social charters, principles, or other initiatives to which the organization subscribes or endorses
Memberships in associations and/or national/international advocacy organizations
Entities included in the organization consolidated financial and nonfinancial reports
Process for defining report content
Material aspects identified in the process for defining report content
For each material aspect, the aspect boundary within the organization
For each material aspect, the aspect boundary outside the organization
Explanation of the effect of and reasons for any restatements of information provided in earlier reports
Significant changes from previous reporting periods in the scope and aspect boundaries
List of stakeholder groups engaged by the organization
The basis for identification and selection of stakeholders with whom to engage
The organization’s approach to stakeholder engagement, including frequency of engagement by type and by stakeholder group, and an indication of whether any of the engagement was undertaken specifically as part of the report preparation process
Key topics and concerns that have been raised through stakeholder engagement, and how the organization has responded to those key topics and concerns, including through its reporting. Report the stakeholder groups that raised each of the key topics and concerns
Date of most recent previous report
Contact point for questions regarding the report or its contents
‘In accordance’ option and GRI Content Index
Policy and current practice with regard to seeking external assurance for the report
Governance structure of organization, including committees of the highest governance body
The organization’s values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics
Disclosure on Management Approach for Aspect
Coverage of the organization’s defined benefit plan obligations.
Financial assistance received from government.
Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts.
Total number and rates of new employee hires and employee turnover by age group, gender and region.
Average hours of training per year per employee, by gender and by employee category.
Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews, by gender and by employee category.