Last years have verified that within business cycles has come to realization the importance of Sustainability in order for corporations to operate regularly, enhance their credibility and good reputation as well as to reduce any possible risks. Following the adoption of the right legislative frameworks and the European Commission’s legislation and commitments, the foundations for implementing Sustainability Tactics have started to be placed while Corporate Responsibility and Responsible Investment (SRI) are no longer unfamiliar to Investors.
In this effort, companies play a key role in implementing united government improvements. In the process of adopting Corporate Responsibility strategies and practices, companies are often subject to errors or misconceptions.
But what are the most common mistakes of the European companies with regards to Sustainability Strategies implementation?
Missing a clear and holistic Sustainability Strategy
The most common mistake noticed in European corporations is the non-integration of Sustainability within the corporate strategy. It seems as if sustainability is not embedded in a company’s core business model and that affects directly all business segments and functions. Sustainability should adopt a 360 approach when it comes to integrating objectives with a clear and systematized vision and strategy instead of applying epidermal actions related to environment, society or employees.
Lack of right education and information to Managers and C-Suite Executives
Most of the companies do not invest in training their employees over the most foundational concepts of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development and as a consequence they appear to be either ignorant over the essential scope of sustainability or have deficient knowledge.
Targeted education, especially to the C-level Executives, elucidates how they can contribute not only individually but also collectively to the achievement of goals, maximization of positive effects and the minimization of negative after-effects within their corporation.
Misconception that Corporate Responsibility refers only to large multinational or Public Listed Companies
There is a common mentality that focuses more on mandatory legislation and much less on proactive corporate strategy planning. It is supported, mainly by smaller and medium size corporations that Corporate Responsibility is a luxury of the larger multinational organizations. Nonetheless, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development are essential concepts that aim to the core business model of all companies and are not just a defensive strategic approach to deal with any current issues.
Downgrading the importance of environmental consequences
Climate change is facing an emergency globally causing professionals to emphasize more on that Corporate Responsibility’s pillar. Key environmental concerns such as GHG emissions, water and energy consumption, waste management, biodiversity impact are still not at the forefront despite the communication on related initiatives and commitments. Sustainability Reporting that provides facts on those issues is the best way to see what is really happening.
Focus on Public Relations and Communications rather than the full range sustainability impacts
For some of the corporations, Sustainability is used up to specific environmental or humanitarian actions which although they are important, they are not directly related to the functional consequences of an organization. Communication or public relations if they are not part of a wider sustainability strategy they might end up to creating a misleading concept of what is sustainable development and corporate responsibility.
It is highly vital the tight alignment of organizations with Sustainability. Large or small, multinational or local companies can maximize their positive affects to society and reduce their environmental impact for a long term economic growth.
* Nikos Avlonas, President and Founder of the Center for Sustainability & Excellence