Corporate sustainability vs Corporate social responsibility. Which is more important?
Corporates today are highly focused on displaying a strong stand of corporate responsibility. The mission and value statement primarily require to show the ‘green motives’ of the business if they want to entice the investors and customers.
Corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility are coherent but they run parallel to each other when it comes to techniques
The real green impact the organization has on the world via usual day-to-day business operations is corporate sustainability whereas corporate social responsibility emphasizes the need for the corporations to invest in the social and environmental goals which fall outside its core operations.
How can the organizations measure them?
There are no definite means to measure corporate sustainability but there are broadly three pillars that are considered in ensuring the sustainable use of resources with economic feasibility.
This essentially includes the actions of the companies to reduce the environmental impact e.g., reducing the carbon footprint, less water pollution, decreasing air pollution, using sustainable energy sources, etc.
Companies today are aware and a lot have dedicated their resources to put in a positive impact on the environment as a whole. Some have completely gone from using electricity to solar power generation while remaining profitable.
This includes the actions of the companies that impact society. The organization needs to take care of the people inside and outside of the business. This necessarily involves improving public health, labor justice, poverty alleviation, maternity leaves, etc.
A company cannot do anything if it is not profitable. This particular pillar emphasizes sustainable business practices for long-term profitability. The values of the stakeholders should align with the management to invest in new and innovative corporate sustainability methods and to get a proper view of how to spend the resources.
Corporate social responsibility
CSR is a broader concept and involves long-term strategies to enhance society both locally and globally. A CSR score tells how good or bad the company is socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public at large.
For example, Starbucks has done exceptionally well in CSR. It sources its coffee morally and happily promotes its global farmer market.
CSR has multiple sides and everybody cannot invest in everything. The goal is to start small and turn it into something big socially.
Every company which needs to comply with the CSR provisions has to spend 2% of the average net profits made during the preceding 3 years as per the CSR policy. The computation of net profit for CSR is as per Section 198 of the Companies Act, 2013.
It essentially involves four blocks:
1. Environmental Responsibility- includes environmentally friendly practices
2. Ethical Responsibility- includes fair trade practices
3. Philanthropic Responsibility- includes giving back to society by donating to causes that align with their values
4. Economic Responsibility- includes focusing on doing things well, economically. For eg, engaging with suppliers who use sustainable materials even if it costs more while making a profit.
Corporations making a mark with corporate sustainability
Lego has been challenging and developing children’s brains in a fun way since 1962. Since the company sells plastic bricks, they are being sustainably responsible by donating to offshore wind farms, improving the energy efficiency of brick production by over 12% per brick.
They also have a ‘replay’ system in place whereby customers can donate their used bricks to children instead of dumping them as waste. LEGO recently signed an agreement to set up its first-ever carbon-neutral plant in Vietnam, with production commencing in 2024.
One of the largest tech giants when it comes to computer software and computers.
They have diverted over 60,000 metric tons of waste from landfills and funded 20 different water replenishment projects in 2020 showing their strong stand towards corporate sustainability.
Microsoft’s giving program raised over $214 million for non-profits in the 2021 fiscal year.
It is the largest renewable energy purchaser and is now aiming to operate solely on carbon-free energy by 2030.
Levis Strauss Water<Less® program saved 13 million liters of water roughly. All the new mannequins are made of 100% recycled base stock.
Sustainability reduces costs and increases the operating profit in the long run. It has also been shown to increase productivity and increase the loyalty of customers.
Sustainability is a choice. Running a business is not, but the irony is, it cannot function smoothly until and unless we make this choice a daily practice.
Until then, think green, act green!!