Sustainability of business is on a great hype these days, but the real thing lurking behind the hype is the importance of accepting responsibility for long term effects of typically legitimate business processes. This gives us the challenge to make sensible evolutions in our business activities today in a way that will not impose a burden on future generations but will only open new horizons.

Sustainability is often understandably equated with environmental concern, but that is only a part of it. The issues that are ranged under the heading “sustainability” by companies, NGOs and governments vary a great deal like the following:

  • Labor Conditions
  • Waste Management
  • Corporate Education
  • Control of Pollution
  • Building of Brand Loyalty
  • Generation of Revenue
  • Bringing in more Stakeholders

The exact issues vary from one company to another. The point is that we have to look into the matter to see which issue might be affected by a company’s actions such that problems may be caused down the line. On the other hand, we will also see how sustainability can create opportunities, both now and then, as we will demonstrate in the Best Practices for Managing the Sustainability Agenda at Your Company lesson.

Sustainability is increasingly relevant for the business world in general because:

  • It stimulates innovation
  • It reinforces company identity
  • It lads to many new business opportunities
  • It mitigates risk by building great brand loyalty
  • It will automatically generate more revenue
  • It assembles the interest of more shareholders

From a minimal perspective, we can see that legal, political and societal forces towards sustainability are increasingly playing significant roles. Most companies have already been under such pressures. And for a long time, there was the myth that sustainability would be mainly a matter of costs and limitations. But we need not focus too much on these pressures now as we have more and more convincing business cases for sustainability. Of course, the business case varies a bit from industry to industry and from country to country, each with particular challenges and opportunities. But the business case is by now strong enough to do away with the fear of costs and limitations related to sustainability. Various opportunities are already being developed in many industries and certain companies how developments that are sufficiently convincing to inspire many other companies as well as their clients.

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Of course, we need to be practical and see how we can actually make it work. Obviously, in our lesson, we can not elaborate on this as we do not have easy answers for all. But a few directions as listed below can be pointed out:

  • We begin with the easy part: “what to avoid”.
  • Then we will look into a way to use stakeholder management to that end, for instance.
  • We go into certain questions that may help you on your way in determining your own sustainability agenda.
  • We suggest doing so from eagerness to innovation, without which sustainability would not be feasible.
  • Looking into some of the suggestions for steps to take may give more confidence that sustainability is in fact within reach.

At the end of the Best Practices for Managing the Sustainability Agenda at Your Company lesson, we can look back and conclude that we have a clear business case for working towards sustainability. The bottom line is that what this business case looks like from the perspective of a particular industry will be on an evolution after experiencing the webinar.

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About The Author

Joop Remmé, Ph.D.
Board Member of Corporate Responsibility Future at Corporate Responsibility Future
Corporate Governance

Joop Remmé, Ph.D.

Dr. Remmé is a specialist in corporate education and corporate responsibility. He has a hybrid background, with 20 years of experience as faculty member of the Maastricht School of Management and as consultant to major corporations on management development.

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An important client has been ABN AMRO, where Dr. Remmé has worked for ten years on management development and leadership programs.

Dr. Remmé continues to teach corporate social responsibility and leadership, while conducting research on stakeholder management. His work has given him extensive teaching and consulting experience in many Asian, African, and Latin American countries. He has been published on corporate responsibility and stakeholder management, and is member of several professional organizations, such as the Netherlands Business Ethics Network, the (Dutch) Federation Risk Management and the Netherlands chapter of Transparency International, several of which he has served on the board.

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