Let’s face it, becoming a Sustainable Organization is a challenge. There are many factors in the equation, from the obvious things like energy and material consumption to the less obvious community support and supply chain engagement. Even though it can be a challenge, Sustainability is not going away. Organizations need to start somewhere if they are going to compete and win in the new economy.


CSR, aka Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting is a great place for companies to start their journey towards Sustainability and with this, brings a number of benefits. To start, more and more organizations are demanding suppliers report progress towards Sustainability and develop a plan for moving forward. Meeting these expectations will help organizations retain current customers while attracting new ones. CSR reporting is also a great way to get buy in and support from Sr. Mgmt as they are forced to make public facing statements and commitments towards sustainability. In the process of developing a CSR report organizations will also take stock of their current progress, have a means for showcasing these efforts to stakeholders while developing a structure and plan for moving forward.


For organizations that have yet to develop a CSR report it can seem like a daunting task but like anything,  it’s important to start small and build from there.

Here are some tips for getting started:




Assess key impacts, risks and opportunities:

This can be done by asking a few simple questions. What are the key impacts the organization has on the environment, its community and its people? What risks and opportunities does this present? When looking at key sustainability trends such as climate change, resource depletion etc., what impacts, risks and opportunities will this present?


Develop a Sustainability Vision:

What is the future desired state for the organization when it comes to Sustainability? For example, is neutrality the goal or would the organization like to be regenerative and have a positive impact?


Organize for Sustainability:

The buck needs to stop somewhere. Develop a governance structure that will place accountability and responsibility for Sustainability at key levels of the organization. Remember that all departments play a role, including Finance, HR and Operations.


Determine Metrics:

With a vision in place, it is important for organizations to have a set of Sustainability KPI’s that will measure progress towards the vision. Determine what the critical sustainability success factors are for the organization and the metrics for measuring these factors. For example, some KPI’s may include a Carbon or Water Footprint, employee turnover, volunteer hours or philanthropic contributions.


Determine the Current State:

Where is the organization today in relation to the vision? Measuring the Sustainability KPI’s will provide a clearer picture of where the organization currently stands. Determining where the organization excels and where it falls down will also help in developing a plan for moving forward.


Develop a future state:

With a clear picture of the current state, organizations can develop goals and targets for each of the KPI’s and layout a plan for achieving them.

Organizations looking for more guidance on CSR Reporting can turn to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI is the International Gold Standard for Sustainability reporting that provides step by step guidance for developing a Sustainability report. www.globalreporting.org

Remember, anything worse pursuing is going to be a challenge but when it comes to Sustainability, the efforts will be well worth it when costs begin to fall and revenues begin to rise.


If you’re interested in developing your CSR strategies contact GEM to speak to us about one on one consulting.