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Still Struggling to Weigh Sustainability Efforts? You’re Not Alone

If you’re still struggling to find the best way to measure the results of your environmental management efforts, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one. In fact, a staggering 46% of companies that responded to Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Trends survey said they’re not accurately measuring the impacts of their sustainability initiatives.

On the other hand, when asked whether sustainability is driving revenue for their businesses, 54% stated “yes.” So despite the fact that accurately measuring the impacts of sustainability remains a challenge, more than half of companies believe that sustainability does add actual value to a business.

Part of the challenge may come from the fact that sustainability workers could be less strategic than many would assume. A recent Aflac survey on corporate social responsibility found that 75% of CSR execs believe that “today’s obsession with quantification” can prevent companies from pursuing efforts that could be their most impactful. Additionally, it may be that many of those invested in sustainability are still not overly concerned about actually aligning their efforts with business outcomes: half of CSR professionals in the survey said their causes should be chosen because they will be most beneficial to others, rather than to have positive business implications.

Nelson Switzer, chief sustainability officer at Nestle Waters NA, said he found it “somewhat troubling” that so many respondents cited an inability to measure the value that sustainability is delivering.

So what can companies do to actually measure the results of their labor? Switzer suggests that sustainability teams within an organization first identify the goals of the organization (ie, growth, market share, reputation, etc.) and then the the sustainability actions that can get the company there. “If your KPIs are aligned, demonstrating the contribution your team makes to the success of the organization will be much more apparent – and provide you a mechanism for course correction, as needed,” he told Ethical Corporation.



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