Corporate sustainability: Definition, importance and examples

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Today, an increasing number of investors and consumers now think twice before engaging with businesses without a holistic corporate sustainability strategy. To keep up with these changing values, more and more businesses are incorporating sustainable practices and initiatives into their operations. In this blog, we will highlight the definition, importance, and benefits of corporate sustainability.  

2030 Climate Change

In simple terms, corporate sustainability can be defined as a strategy where a business delivers its services to facilitate economic and sustainable growth. In addition, it effectively prioritizes long-term development via responsible methods as opposed to short-term financial gains.  

If a business has an integrated corporate sustainability strategy, it must utilize natural resources responsibly and invest in the well-being of the environment while ensuring that all members involved in the process are treated equally. Here is an insight into the three pillars of corporate sustainability: 

  • The environmental pillar

This is inclusive of multiple strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions like utilizing green energy, eradicating toxic hazards, managing waste, recycling or reusing materials, reducing carbon footprint in the value chain, and more. 

  • The economic pillar

This ensures that businesses can thrive and survive to make a positive long-term impact. For example, reducing overall costs by using minimal plastic in packaging cycles and producing more green jobs [1]. 

  • The social pillar

This pillar is concerned with practices that actively promote the safety, health, and well-being of employees, communities, and customers. In addition, it includes activities like protecting access to natural resources, ensuring customers have the rightful information about the products, building an effective safety culture, etc. 

What are the main challenges in implementing a corporate sustainability strategy?

Implementing an integrated corporate sustainability strategy is not a simple process. Leaders may face challenges such as high initial costs, stakeholders’ resistance to change, lack of standardized metrics, regulatory complexities, and difficulties in balancing short-term profits with long-term sustainability goals.

How can businesses overcome these challenges?

To effectively overcome challenges in implementing corporate sustainability practices, businesses should establish clear goals, integrate sustainability into operations, and engage leadership and employees. Additionally, they should collaborate closely with all their stakeholders, implement sustainable practices in the supply chain, and maintain transparent communication about their corporate sustainability initiatives.

The importance of corporate sustainability

Some organizations may set ambitious benchmarks for decarbonization, but ultimately fail to realize their goals. Businesses that successfully achieve their sustainability objectives must engage key stakeholders in understanding the importance of corporate sustainability:

  • The core importance of corporate sustainability lies in bringing companies and industries more in touch with the standards of sustainable development
  • Also, it is imperative to construct a rough roadmap for a rejuvenated, greener, and cleaner planet when it comes to global warming and climate change. 
  • Today, in the age of hyper-awareness about social issues and environmental health, corporate sustainability has proven to be an integral tool to convince customers about the intent and priorities of the organization.  
  • To put it simply, corporate sustainability matters as it enables companies to grow, adapt and rethink with the demands and needs of an evolving society and planet.  

A glimpse into some of the best corporate sustainability initiatives

Some companies have brilliantly implemented corporate sustainability practices and achieved commendable results: 

 1. Neste Corporation

Based in Finland, Neste Corporation is a marketing and oil-refining company which is listed among the most sustainable companies in the world. It heavily invests in the development of renewable products like biofuels. In fact, today, around 25% of their overall revenue is generated from refining biofuels, proving that it is a trailblazer in the field of corporate sustainability. 

2. Umicore

Umicore is one of the best materials technology companies that secured the seventh position on the Global 100. The company generates massive revenue from a variety of clean technologies like emission control catalysts, recycling metals, and producing batteries for electric vehicles. 

3. Prologis

Prologis is the only real estate investment trust that has made it to the Global 100 list. The company actively contributes to corporate sustainability by selling best-in-class energy-efficient buildings while going above and beyond the conventional standards for sustainable development. 

 4. Banco de Brasil

Did you know that Banco de Brasil is the most sustainable bank in the world? They have accelerated the idea of corporate sustainability through their green loan programs, which allow companies to finance initiatives with a positive environmental impact. People can use green loans to build renewable energy projects or to implement energy-conservation measures. 

Schneider Electric: Accelerating sustainability for all

At Schneider Electric, sustainability [2] lies at the core of our purpose, business, and culture as we accelerate our contributions to a brighter and more inclusive world.  

Last year, we pursued ambitious corporate sustainability goals by deploying top-notch solutions to deliver sustainability and energy efficiency. At the same time, we have been closely guiding our partners, customers, and suppliers in reducing their emissions. Here is a glimpse into our sustainability impact highlights (2021): 

  • Last year, our EcoStruxure solutions helped customers reduce their carbon emissions by 84 million tons. 
  • In October 2021, we launched the ‘Energize Program’ to expand access to renewable energy. 
  • Through the Zero-Carbon Project, we have been working closely with 1,000 top suppliers to halve their carbon emissions by 2025.  

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