Purpose – Reviews recent and diverse literature on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, to bring together research and recommendations about this increasingly important business initiative.
Design/methodology/approach – Conceptual and strategic thinking on the subject.
Findings – Over the past decade, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability have become hot topics right across the business world. Changes in legislation, pressure from consumers and concern for reputation have forced even the most reluctant of managers to address the impact of business on the environment. As a result, reporting on sustainability has risen enormously: one hundred percent of the FTSE companies now mention it on their corporate website. But despite all this increased attention, a great number of executives are still unclear on precisely what the word sustainability means. Common concerns include how it relates to CSR, how it fits with business initiatives that are already in place and, of course, how it impacts the bottom line. As yet, there are no established standards, and definitions of the term are loose and subjective. Whereas one company may be overhauling its business models and processes in a real commitment to green practice, another interprets a sustainable business as a company that will survive the next ten years. So how can we find some common ground? What do we know about sustainability by now, and what do we still need to learn?
Practical implications – Offers practical advice for anyone considering sustainability and suggests areas for further and research.
Social implications – Calls for tougher definitions and increased practice of corporate sustainability in order to benefit society and the environment as well as business.
Originality/value – Explains some of the complexities of the current buzzword in business, offering advice to any manager interested in sustainability.