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Sustainability Programs Mature, Focus on Intended Outcomes

planning for a sustainable future, dakotaThis article is sponsored by Dakota Software.

The corporate sustainability programs of many companies saw 2015 marking the beginning of a new set of goals, which would seem to suggest that such programs are maturing, according to a new report from the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM). Of particular interest, the report found, is the fact many of these programs now focus on intended outcomes rather than actions alone. The report, Planning for a Sustainable Future, pinpoints shifts that are expected to happened in EHS&S management in the year to come. Based on NAEM’s annual outreach among its companies, it pinpointed a number of trends the industry can expect to see in 2016.

Supply chains will be the focus of many companies. Since every company not only has a supply chain but belongs to a supply chain, customer requirements are a strong motivator of change. Walmart’s sustainability goals, for example, are driving changes across the business ecosystem for advancements in green chemistry, fertilizers and supply chain transparency. This trend is going beyond consumer-facing brands as business customers increasingly expect suppliers to provide transparency and operate in a way that aligns with their own sustainability goals. In order to improve supply chains, companies need give them focused attention, creative solutions, and engagement, the report suggests.

Other trends pinpointed include the following:

  • The new generation of goals drive toward tangible outcomes on material issues;
  • Companies continue to seek opportunities to reduce the impact of their operations;
  • External reporting strategies are maturing to better balance stakeholder expectations with business needs;
  • Product stewardship initiatives are addressing broader value chain concerns;
  • The climate conversation has reached the tipping point;
  • Companies are going beyond their gates to address systems challenges;
  • Leadership companies are changing how they think about their role in society.

The report, put together from information culled by talking with EHS and sustainability leaders about their latest ideas, NAEM expects a future where corporate success will be assessed and measured by impact, and where the boundaries of a company’s sustainability efforts will go well beyond their gates.

The complimentary report, offered by Dakota Software, can be downloaded here.

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