Sustainability and CSR

What is corporate sustainability?

The term corporate sustainability refers to a new corporate management model that is becoming more and more common. It can also be considered to fall under the broader term of ‘environmental social governance (ESG)’. This management model recognises both the business needs of the company such as growth, revenue, and profit – without compromising others, the economy, or the environment. In the past, many businesses have been found guilty of placing business needs before anything else – and ignored any negative externalities that resulted from this.

This management model is built upon three main pillars:

  • The environmental pillar: This is the most talked about, and is somewhat in the spotlight due to the current awareness of the damage caused to our planet. This pillar would include any company action taken to reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact from all areas of their business. Examples of this could be reducing packaging, reducing energy or water usage, implementing recycling or re-using, sourcing sustainable energy.
  • The social pillar: This pillar focuses on gaining and retaining the support of stakeholder, employees, and the local community. Ensuring good care is taken of people both inside and outside of the business, ensures approval from all areas. Examples of this could be eliminating the use of child labour, offering both paternity and maternity leave, and giving back to the community (either donations or social action).
  • The economic pillar: This pillar could be considered to be the ‘money’ side of things. By implementing good sustainable business practice and policy ensures both short and long-term profitability. The other two pillars are not worth much if your business is haemorrhaging money and can’t turn a profit. This pillar is too extensive to give good examples, but it can be boiled down to ensuring good governance and compliance. It is important that all stakeholders and management have aligned values on how to spend resources.

It is important that these three pillars are considered to be of equal importance. If this isn’t the case then companies can be caught out implementing unethical practices to cut corners or increase profits.

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a far broader concept. Whereas corporate sustainability places the wellbeing of the business at the centre – CSR helps to ensure a company is held socially accountable to itself, employees, stakeholders, and the public.

Whereas corporate sustainability is concerned with ‘not doing bad to others’, corporate social responsibility seeks to enhance and uplift society. This can be both locally and globally dependant on the size of company. CSR is a long-term strategy and as such is always under review and evolving.

There are many areas across the world that organisations could invest in as part of a healthy CSR strategy – almost too many to keep track of!

It is important to remember that because of the sheer scale that it is impossible to invest into all initiatives, start-ups, ethical companies, or charities. The most socially responsible companies are those who choose to make a real difference in a few areas.

Are there any similarities?

Naturally, there will be some overlap between the two. If completed successfully then both should allow for businesses to run profitably, while not at the expense of others. Both practices should encourage businesses to make a positive impact on the world around them.

So, why aren’t they the same thing then?

The differences between CSR and Corporate Sustainability

CSRCorporate Sustainability
VisionOften looking backwards to reflect on what the company has done to benefit society. Emphasis on the past.Focussed on the future and how to develop the business sustainably. Emphasis on the future.
TargetOften target opinion formers and thought leaders. This can range all the way through politicians, newspapers, magazines, talk shows, radio, pressure groups, and NGOs.Corporate sustainability focusses on those who are important to the business (value-chain). This can range from consumers, stakeholders, corporate, employees, and contractors.
MotivationThe driving force behind this social action is usually to uphold or improve a company’s reputation.The driving force here is more to do with creating new opportunities for the business and exploiting emerging markets.

As you can see – there are a range of differences between the two. It is understandable why the two terms are confused so often as even in the areas where they differ, it is not by a lot.

If you are a business owner you may be thinking introspectively at this point. Which to choose, which is better?

The answer is – whatever you can manage.

Why can’t we just label CSR what it is – philanthropy?

Because it is not philanthropy. Philanthropy is defined as:

“the practice of helping the poor and those in need, especially by giving money”

The Oxford Dictionary

This is not what corporate social responsibility is. It is simply an element of it. CSR seeks to negate any of the negative externalities from their corporate activities, and one of the ways that they can achieve this is by engaging in philanthropy. In much the same way as CSR and corporate sustainability are confused, so too is CSR and philanthropy.

CSR – Examples

Philanthropy is not the only way in which businesses can improve their social responsibility:

MethodDescriptionExample
Reducing carbon footprintReducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere at any stage of business.Installing timers for HVAC systems.
Improving labour policiesEnsuring that all employees are not overly-exploited.Ensuring all employees can apply for maternity or paternity leave.
Participating in fair-tradeEither seek to have your product fair-trade certified, or products your business purchases.Apply here for fair-trade certification.
PhilanthropyCharitable donations to organisations or individuals.Donating to a local community centre.
VolunteeringIt is important that any volunteering is completed voluntarily and by a variety of employees, including managers and corporate.Try volunteering your time at a local community project.
Beneficial environmental corporate policiesAny policy that has been made to ultimately benefit the environment.Using only sustainable green gas.
Socially and environmentally conscious investmentConsciously making a monetary investment for socially or environmental reasons.Carbon-offsetting your business to be carbon neutral.

Looking for help in implementing CSR?

It is understandably daunting to be made aware of this information and suddenly feeling like you have to make an immediate change. Don’t panic just yet, you aren’t alone!

At Niccolo Gas, we are well placed to be able to assist you! By focussing on our area of expertise, we are able to guide you towards achieving your corporate social responsibility goals.

We truly care about our planet – and want to protect it at all costs. Because of this, we have placed a strong focus on sourcing green gas for all business customers concerned about the environment.

Green gas is extracted from a multitude of sources – all of which are sustainable. Whether this is from anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, or synthetic gas.

By switching your business gas supply to us we are able to provide you with fully certified, sustainable, environmentally friendly green-gas. Our certificates allow you to keep a clear conscience on your energy usage, and help you on your way to being carbon neutral.

By letting us handle your gas supply you have taken a great stride towards a more socially responsible business.

You can call us for a chat at 0131 610 8868, or reach out to us via webform or e-mail us at:

info@niccolo.co.uk

Take the first step toward a more socially conscious business today. We look forward to hearing from you!

Common Questions

What is corporate sustainability?

The term corporate sustainability refers to a new corporate management model that is becoming more and more common. It can also be considered to fall under the broader term of ‘environmental social governance (ESG)’. This management model recognises both the business needs of the company such as growth, revenue, and profit – without compromising others, the economy, or the environment.

What does CSR stand for?

CSR stands for corporate social responsibility.

What is CSR?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a broad concept. Whereas corporate sustainability places the wellbeing of the business at the centre – CSR helps to ensure a company is held socially accountable to itself, employees, stakeholders, and the public.

Are corporate sustainability and CSR the same thing?

No – they are not. There will be some overlap between the two, as they do hope to achieve similar goals. If completed successfully then both should allow for businesses to run profitably, while not at the expense of others. Both practices should encourage businesses to make a positive impact on the world around them. If you are still confused, use our handy table to show the differences between the two!

What are the differences between CSR and corporate sustainability?

There are three main differences that can be easily observed:

  • Vision: CSR looks to the past, CS looks to the future.
  • Target: CSR targets thought-leaders and opinion-formers, while CS looks to target the value chain.
  • Motivation: CSR looks to improve or maintain company reputation, CS looks for emerging markets.

More detailed information can be found within our article!