So you thought “sustainability” was exclusively the domain of environmentalists!?

Like we could TRUST our elected representatives to run the country

Banking and investments were safe in the hands of bankers

House values only go up; credit can be free; jobs are for life; your cheque is in the post; Santa lives at…

INSTITUTIONS are under severe pressure to change and many realised this a long time ago. So why have they failed to take the necessary action? So why have they not been seizing the opportunity to "steal a march" on their competition? OK, so change is rarely easy. The larger the organisation the more difficult it is to change the hearts and minds of employees. Hence CHANGE MANAGEMENT is a bit of a "business art form". Of course, for any change to be accepted, implemented and have a lasting impact there have to be clear justification and business benefits. So that shouldn’t be too hard a sell to the stakeholders should it? Why is not happening across a range of sectors? MY own theory is that for too many there is a, well founded, fear of one word…TRANSPARENCY.

Acceptable and meaningful change must embrace transparency


The following table is intended to highlight what sustainability can mean to an organisation and how improved sustainability performance can maximise the opportunities this may bring and minimise the potential risks.

Impact area


Examples of Opportunity

Examples of Risk

Operational cost

Improved process or eco-efficiencies (the delivery of more value or service with fewer resources), waste and energy reduction, improved pollution prevention and improved compliance management.

Process improvement due to environmental consideration producing cost savings

Not implementing cheaper eco-efficient processes

Anticipation and management of risk


Pro-active management of sustainable development issues reduces the chances of non-compliance with legislation, pollution incidents and the potential for poor media coverage,

Taking action to minimise impacts of forthcoming legislation


Stakeholder relations

With increasing stakeholder scrutiny of organisations, engaging and acting on perceptions of stakeholders is essential. Organisations improve their ability to retain a ‘licence to operate’; from the communities they operate in, governments, civil society and other stakeholders through diligent sustainable development management.

Improved relations with people living near operational sites or by strengthening lobbying position with government

Local reputation damage through local campaign or adverse publicity by not sufficiently taking into account concerns of people living near operational sites


Productivity and organisational effectiveness can be raised through good sustainable development management. For example, higher standards, better understanding of stakeholder needs, better trained staff.

Cross functional working reducing workload

Poorly trained employees

Staff recruitment and retention

Organisations adopting sustainable development approaches find it easier to attract and retain the best staff as they feel they are contributing to a societal good rather than degrading it. Not only are recruitment costs reduced but also talented, socially and environmentally aware employees help to encourage new product and service innovations and ways of operating.

Improved employee retention due to introduction of family friendly policies

Graduates not wanting to work for a company with a poor social responsibility reputation


There are widespread moves towards including sustainable development criteria in organisational and project assessments, be it for lending, insurance premiums or investment decisions. Organisations with good sustainable development management will be at an advantage over their peers through lower insurance premiums, fewer liabilities and improved access to capital.

Meeting social and environmental considerations that are included in tenders

Failing to provide social and environmental information required by tender

Market differentiation and sales

Organisations can grow revenue from new markets for sustainable products and services. An example is moving from the manufacture of a product to the delivery of a service that meets the same need. Innovation driven by sustainable development issues can create considerable new opportunities.

Through effective responses to environmental or social market conditions, such as an introduction of a new service

Losing ground to a competitor after they introduce a environmental preferable product

Brand and Reputation

Systematic sustainable development management helps to retain and improve brand equity and corporate reputation through increased loyalty and trust across a range of stakeholders

Positive media coverage from introducing a new product or service

Negative media coverage


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