Strategic Planning for Sustainability
Although corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) has been adopted by many companies, few of them are practicing it with any formal strategy, and the common situation seems to be a portfolio of disparate CSR programs and initiatives, some of which support core strategy and others of which appear adjacent and discretionary. The diversity of potential CSR initiatives is one issue (e.g., companies may simultaneously disburse funding for community activities, provide grants for nonprofits/NGOs, launch environmental sustainability programs to reduce energy and resource use and engage in “cause” marketing and comprehensive system-level efforts to remake their entire value chain); however, developing a strategic orientation is complicated by the fact that each company has its own unique set of drivers and motivations for CSR and ideas and responsibilities for those initiatives come from all parts and levels of the organization. Moreover, while it makes sense to identify a specific business logic and rationale for each CSR initiative, the reality is that companies often take on causes and projects that have little or no connection to their core competencies or business strategy. Serious interest in CSR strategy has been driven by the emergence of two challenging environmental conditions that must now be addressed by all companies: the growing interest in sustainability and the need to engage with a broad range of stakeholders beyond the owners of the business. These conditions have not made strategic planning any easier, given that they expand the levels of unpredictability and risk in any company’s environment, and the response has been the development of a new discipline: strategic planning for sustainability. Strategic planning for sustainability is far from easy or precise, if only because it requires that simultaneous consideration be given not only to economic performance and development, but also to environmental protection and the social wellbeing of employees and other persons and groups outside of the organization. Companies and their managers are struggling to find and deploy the tools and practices that are necessary for balancing and reconciling the “triple bottom line” of profits, planet and people. This book is intended to provide sustainable entrepreneurs with a comprehensive guide to the key steps required to strategically approach becoming a successful sustainable business including conducting a CSR assessment, developing a CSR strategy and accompanying business case, developing and implementing CSR commitments and measuring the performance and effectiveness of the planning initiative.
December 7, 2020