|Extracts of corporate statements on sustainable development and aspects of responsible business, from current or recent web site text, are given here|
These extracts illustrate how some companies are both accepting the need for change and approaching the challenge of sustainability. However, making statements is one thing, taking action another while actually becoming more sustainable is different again. A careful watch on progress will be required.BP Amoco (http://www.bpamoco.com/)
BP Amoco hope soon to complete an acquisition of ARCO.
The booklet What we stand for Our Business Policies was published in February 1999 and released to the Press. These policies are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. The policies set out BP Amoco's commitments, which emphasise:
The measures of success in meeting these commitments include long-term value, employees having pride in accomplishment, customer satisfaction, and company reputation in all communities. In addition to the published document these commitments are re-affirmed in speeches given by top executives aimed at both the public and employees.
In a complementary booklet for employees, BP Amoco sets out what the policy commitments mean in practice and explains to employees what people who deal with BP Amoco should expect. The booklet explains in some detail how employees are expected to deal with dilemmas in each of the five areas described above. Everybody is expected to live up to the commitments and to influence partners to adopt similar policies.
BP Amoco is all about improving people's quality of life by providing heat, light, mobility and materials in an environmentally and socially responsible way. It's not just what is done but how it's done.
BP recognises that these commitments "change the sort of people we need our leaders to be." This includes:
To support this important initiative BP Amoco are working with several academic institutions to develop and run an education programme for their top 200-300 managers. This will include a programme on social and environmental sensitivity. Part of the challenge they are facing on sustainable development is how to make become less intellectual and expressed in terms that make it easy for people at every level to understand what it means in practice. For BP Amoco it has to be integrated with the performance culture now expressed as commitments and expectations, and delivered taking account of three key elements:
"In my own company we see sustainable development as a potentially powerful stimulus to the energies and creativity of our workforce. All of us at every level will be required to extend our skills.
"If you want a prediction from me, it's that we'll evolve from a world of hydrocarbon dependency to a mixture of hydrocarbon and alternative energies use. Vast quantities of liquid hydrocarbons (oil and gas) will be left behind in the ground, just as solid hydrocarbons (coal) are being left behind today.
"This is the context in which much of the debate about sustainable development is taking place. But to put it in a nutshell, we will not arrive at solutions unless we think about social needs and environmental impact."
"There are many ways forward, but certain parameters are clear. The response must be integrated, it must be global and it must be balanced in terms of social, economic and environmental solutions.
"We welcome the opportunity which sustainable development offers to align industrial and social agendas better. We need to be part of the solution to the complex questions associated with future global energy supplies. We have no wish to be seen as the problem or even as part of the problem.
"We wish to be engaged on major public policy issues such as climate change, environmental protection and human rights.
"Business requires foresight, then action, adaptation and innovation. That process has seen us adjust in the last decade to insistent demands for higher environmental standards.
"Companies cannot be separate from the societies in which they operate. Today we must show that everything we do, and every product and service we provide, is delivered in an environmentally and socially sound manner."
The challenge BP Amoco faces is to develop a sound approach to continuous education, starting with the top 200-300 managers that achieves an effective, practical link between the stated commitments and expectations and the evolving understanding of Sustainable Development so that both financial and non-financial targets can be met.British Telecommunications Plc (http://www.bt.com/)
"Our aim is to raise the issues; it is not an attempt to give definitive answers. Rather, the intention is to question the status quo, and, at times, to put forward some controversial ideas. The first paper covered some of the practical policy requirements of a successful sustainable development strategy for the UK, and was BT's response to the United Kingdom Government's consultation paper entitled 'Opportunities for Change'. This second paper explores the inter-relationship between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development at a global level. In particular it considers the role of multi-national businesses in making sustainable development a reality. We are well aware that some commentators believe that multi-national companies and sustainable development are uncomfortable, if not impossible, bed fellows. However, we believe that globalisation is a phenomenon of our time and we must seek to find ways of achieving sustainability in a global commercial environment." This paper not only articulates the imperatives for action, but also, I hope, offers a few pointers in the right direction" (signed: Sir Peter Bonfield, Chief Executive)
"Things are now changing; with a growing appreciation of the social dimension of sustainable development. But what exactly does that mean, and what are the implications for the business community?
"If we could shrink the Earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look like this:
"There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere (North and South) and 8 Africans. 51 would be female; 49 would be male. 70 would be non-white; 30 white. 70 would be non-Christian; 30 Christian. 50% of the entire world's wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people and all 6 would be citizens of the United States. 80 would live in substandard housing. 70 would be unable to read. 50 would suffer from malnutrition. 1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth. Only 1 would have a college education; and no one would own a computer."
"Sara Parkin, director of Forum for the Future, describes it succinctly as follows:
"For me a sustainable society means ecological security; trust in justice and government; appropriate technologies which add value to what people do rather than replace them; satisfying work; a safe, supportive community and a shared sense of purpose and values."
BT continue: "Sustained economic growth is essential to the economic and social development of all countries, in particular developing countries. Through such growth, which should be broadly based so as to benefit all people, countries will be able to improve the standards of living of their people through the eradication of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy and the provision of adequate shelter and secure employment for all, and the preservation of the integrity of the environment. Growth can foster development only if its benefits are fully shared. It must therefore also be guided by equity, justice and social and environmental considerations. Development, in turn, must involve measures that improve the human condition and the quality of life itself. Democracy, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, transparent and accountable governance in all sectors of society, as well as effective participation by civil society, are also an essential part of the necessary foundations for the realisation of social and people-centred sustainable development."The Co-operative Bank (http://www.co-operativebank.co.uk/)
The Bank does not have an explicit statement about sustainable development but has an impressive ethical policy that sets out the customers they will and will not do business with, and how they test this periodically with their customers. The statement has recently been tested with the bank's customers. "Its our customers money, so we asked for their views on how it should and shouldnt be invested. To make it easy for you to see how opinions have been taken into account, weve indicated the changes to our Ethical Policy and shown how much support each received from our customers." The headings used are given below and more detail is on their web site:
Eco Know How is the Electrolux Environmental
Competence Program. Electrolux is one of the first global companies to use a multimedia
database for in-house training. The larger part of this database is now available on the
Eco Know How consists of three modules - Basic Training, Electrolux and the Environment and Environment at Work - as well as a glossary of environmental terms.
Basic Training describes the fundamental laws of nature, and presents current environmental problems and their possible causes. It also discusses sustainability and its importance for future generations.
Electrolux and the Environment describes what Electrolux is doing to minimize the environmental impact of producing 55 million products a year. You can visit the Electrolux kitchen and click on the dishwasher. See what you can save on water, detergent, energy and time by selecting a dishwasher with a high environmental performance!
Environment at Work is a training module used within the Electrolux Group (and it can not be reached from this site, nor the Electrolux site). It contains guidelines and examples of best environmental practices for Group Activities.
"Iceland are pioneering revolutionary ways to shop such as Home Delivery and Home Shopping, as well as operating over 750 convenient high street store.
Iceland has a commitment to protect the environment and preserve the quality of life.
We care about the planet, natural resources, family life, fair practices and community issues, and in all Company business give them due consideration.
The cornerstone to our success is, and will continue to be, linking efficiency with a social conscience and profitability with good business ethics."Interface Europe Limited (http://www.interfaceinc.com/)
What is sustainability?
"It's more than environmentalism. It's about living and working in ways that don't jeopardize the future of our social, economic and natural resources. In business, sustainability means managing human and natural capital with the same vigor we apply to the management of financial capital. It means widening the scope of our awareness so we can understand fully the "true cost" of every choice we make.
"Were we always striving for sustainability at Interface? No. In fact, for the first 20 years of our existence, our environmental policy was simply to comply with government regulations. But today, led by Chairman and CEO Ray Anderson, we have a new vision: to become a leader in industrial ecology by first becoming a sustainable corporation and eventually a restorative enterprise.
"To realize that vision we've laid out a path designed to take us to sustainability. So far, we've made significant progress. But we have a very long way to go."John Laing Plc (http://www.laing.com/)
"It might be difficult to see how a company that constructs roads, provides housing and owns power stations is environmentally friendly, but at Laing we do the best we can to develop and deliver our projects in an environmentally sustainable way.
"And what is 'sustainable'?" you may reasonably ask. We see sustainable development as "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
On the M40 Widening project, we planted thousands of trees and made other environmental improvements.
"In practice we can make the greatest contribution where we have full control over the project, for example in housing developments. We design houses with high levels of energy efficiency and conservation. We do not use products which are proven to be environmentally detrimental. We develop wherever possible on "brown field" sites, and over 80% of our land bank has been built on before, well above the UK Government's recommended target.
"John Laing plc is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. We are one of very few international development and construction groups that are members and we seek to play our part in promoting international understanding of sustainable business."Norsk Hydro (http://www.hydro.com/)
Sustainable development depends on social responsibility
Sustainable development cannot occur without social responsibility says Hydro president and CEO Egil Myklebust, "Economic growth, social responsibility and environmental responsibility are mutually dependent on each other," he says.
"Hydro will be in the forefront in environmental care and industrial safety. The challenge we face is to find the proper balance between caring for the environment and serving human needs.
"Hydro's mission is to take care of the environment and the wellbeing of future generations. This will be the basis of our company policy and decision making.
"Hydro will demonstrate openness in environmental policy. We will develop and publicize information on all significant environmental aspects of our activities."Novo Nordisk (http://www.novo.dk/index.html)
"We shall all over the world conduct our business as socially and environmentally responsible neighbours, and contribute to the enrichment of our communities." (From Novo Nordisk Vision 21.)
"Sustainable development continues to be a complex challenge - notwithstanding the difficulties there can be in defining the term and the means by which we can measure progress towards it. For how exactly can we define the 'carrying capacity of the earth', and ensure that we are not 'compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs'?
"Despite problems of semantics the concept of sustainable development has an important advantage in that it recognizes the interdependence of the economic, environmental and social spheres. This highlights the fact that sustainable development is not something that we as a company can achieve by ourselves. Instead, we must work closely with our customers, suppliers and the rest of our stakeholders to ensure that our products are meeting real needs and being produced in an environmentally sound manner. Being an active member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and other environmental networks, along with our stakeholder consultation activities are, we believe, the best ways of developing our commitment and contribution to sustainable development.
"From our viewpoint sustainable development is also - as it says - about development and this means that industry can gain without the environment having to lose and vice versa. We believe that Novo Nordisk can make an important contribution to a sustainable future through the products we make and the technologies and processes we employ. And we do believe that we can be part of the solution - not the problem. In the process of evolving sustainable development from an abstract concept to a set of operational management tools we believe that it is important to take a practical and structured approach - setting targets, quantifying results and documenting progress. To kick off this process at Novo Nordisk, my colleagues and I in Corporate Management initiated a project in 1997 with the aim of identifying focus areas for the company within the sustainable development agenda. The outcome of what we called the "Values in Action" project was, among other things, to work in a structured and targeted manner with bioethics in the same way as we have been doing with environmental issues for a number of years, and to publish a social responsibility report around the year 2000. Our strategy for improving our environmental responsibility has been to engage stakeholders, involve employees and set targets for continuous progress and these key elements will also form the basis for our approach to sustainable development.
"Transparent and responsible action is at the heart of being considered credible and trustworthy. I hope this report echoes our endeavours to document the soundness of our business. Let us know what you think of this, our fifth report. We do welcome and learn from your responses. Use the feedback form or contact us at Environmental Affairs: +45 4442 2554 or by e-mail: email@example.com. "P&O (http://www.p-and-o.com/)
"For business, sustainable development demands far-sighted vision, one that goes beyond economics and requires the balancing of a broad range of social and environmental issues which are affected by business decisions and which can have an impact on the value of a business and its markets.
"Society, and industry in particular, have struggled to convert the broad principles into firm programmes of action, although responsible industrial organisations have fully accepted the need to incorporate the principles into their daily activities and long-term planning.
"Our history shows that we have always taken the long-term view. We have sustained our business for over 150 years, and while the definition of sustainability has changed, the Group's commitment to being a sustainable business remains. We recognise that our business must meet not only today's environmental and social responsibility standards, but it should also anticipate those which are emerging.
"We will continue working to reduce the environmental impact of our activities. We recognise too the need to go further and develop new approaches to reduce our impact and increase our contributions to sustainable development. We will also incorporate relevant social considerations into our planning and where appropriate look for ways to help local communities help themselves.
"We recognise that progress will only be made by all sectors of society, which includes business, working together. This is a process which will inevitably involve trial and error. We have made progress but inevitably face many dilemmas on the best ways forward."Procter & Gamble (http://www.pg.com/99sr)
There is a new Sustainability Report 1999 available from Procter & Gamble, the Executive Summary of which can be obtained from them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or downloaded from their web site as above, in which the Chief Executive and the Director, Corporate Sustainable Development make statements, extracts of which are given below:
"Sustainable development, or sustainability, integrates economic progress, social development and environmental concerns with the objective of ensuring a quality of life for future generations at least as good as today's. It is becoming an increasingly important public policy issue, and also a significant business opportunity.
"Consistent with the Company's new business structure, Organization 2005, we are looking to the new Global Business Units (GBUs) for leadership on how sustainability will be reflected in their business plans. Concurrently, we have reorganized the company's Corporate Environmental Quality group to encompass all aspects of sustainability, and focus on its leadership on activities best done at corporate level.
"Over the past several years, academics, governments and non-governmental organizations have been evolving their views of environmental quality to the broader, more holistic concept of sustainable development. While some see this as inevitably leading to restraining consumption, I view it as an opportunity and stimulus to innovate, to improve consumers' lives, while also making positive contributions to environmental quality and society, particularly in developing countries.
"We have already made progress in this area .We need to make further progress. Each GBU must understand how sustainability impacts its business and identify the implications."
"The 1999 marks two important sustainability milestones for P&G. The first is the creation of the Corporate Sustainable Development organization The second is our move from an annual Environmental Progress Report to this Sustainability Report, including participation in the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI's) pilot standardized reporting format.Shell (http://www.shell.com/)
"For the past two years, we have had a worldwide team of P&G people analyzing how sustainable development could and should relate to our business. We realized that P&G, to date, could be described as a sustainable corporation. Over the past 162 years, P&G has changed and reinvented itself many times."
"Having unshakeable moral values and sound business principles means we take pride in what we do. It gives us clarity when making decisions, it unifies and motivates staff, and it allows society to measure our performance beyond the generation of wealth. Since our earliest days, we have been guided by a passionate commitment to honesty, integrity and respect for people. We believe in the promotion of trust, openness, teamwork and professionalism.
"But recently we've had to tackle some particularly difficult issues, and we realise we have not always taken enough care to show how they were resolved in line with our core values. So this section looks at each of our General Business Principles, and how they apply to a series of topical issues and dilemmas.
"We want you to know more about how we work and how we strive to live up to our principles. We also want to know your views on the many difficult issues and dilemma we are all faced with as we enter a new millennium. You can join in the debate by entering the various forums that are attached to each subject or by sending us your view by email. We promise to listen."
"In the early 1990s, we made a commitment at the highest corporate level to sustainable development and began a group-wide process of transformation. That process has gathered pace to the extent that none of us at Shell is unaware of the issues involved and the contribution that each of us can make. Our goal remains to have our responsibilities to all our stakeholders clearly seen as an essential part of the Shell culture, and to set all our decision making in the context of sustainable development.
"The Shell Road Map charts past developments and, more importantly, the road ahead.
"We have already started to bring together the three components of sustainable development: financial, environmental and social. And we are currently developing ways to monitor, measure and report on how our performance delivers against our Statement of General Business Principles and the expectations of society. We call this framework our Social Responsibility Management System.
"We are seeking ways to collate and report meaningful performance measures which can be independently verified by external auditors, and to obtain an independent view (assurance) of our social accountability.
"For a long time, there have existed detailed standards and measures of financial performance, and great advances have also been made for health, safety and the environment. But social performance indicators are fragmented and inadequate, and those that do exist have not yet achieved internationally recognised status.
"To implement so much change globally is a major undertaking for a group of our complexity, with more than 100,000 people in over 130 countries. But we are determined to build a better world by becoming more responsible to the energy industry, and helping society as a whole to become more sustainable. We look forward to working with other companies, organisations and people in furthering developments in this area."
Shell have published People, Planet and Profits: an act of commitment as a booklet which is available on request from Group External Affairs, Shell International, Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA. There are also two smaller booklets on Listening and Responding one of which describes the dialogue with stakeholders the other explains their advertising campaign on this theme.Tarmac (http://www.tarmac.co.uk/)
Tarmac is looking beyond 'greening' towards a more sustainable approach to the supply of building materials and construction services. This involves addressing not only environmental performance, but also financial and social performance, the so-called 'triple bottom line'. It also involves taking a more strategic approach to design, construction, maintenance and management to optimise whole performance.
In its third report, Tarmac in the Environment 1997/8, Tarmac's Independent Environmental Advisory Panel set out a strategy for promoting sustainability within Tarmac based on the delivery of six objectives.
In January 1998 signed an agreement with The Natural Step (TNS) and became one of the major UK businesses to be involved in a national trial of TNS known as the Pathfinder Programme.
Tarmac is involved in three major sustainability projects, with TNS:
An example of Living Our Values and Principles
in action was demonstrated when they announced that "Green electricity produced from
sewage by Thames Water is to be sold to businesses in a groundbreaking deal to promote
"The company has teamed up with the Renewable Energy Company, Europe's largest supplier of "green" power, to market electricity generated at 22 sewage treatment works throughout the Thames region. The "Ecotricity" agreement was launched at County Hall, London, by Energy Minister John Battle."
Triodos Bank does not have a statement about SD as such but actively seeks to provide financial services to companies that take a responsible attitude towards social and environmental issues. Triodos Bank is active in the following areas by sector:
Social Economy: Innovative businesses, trading, innovative living and working, services and business centres.
Nature & Environment: Sustainable energy (sun and wind), organic agriculture, environmental technology and nature conservation.
Non-Profit and Art: Education, special needs, health care, nursing care, individual artists and groups.
North-South: Development cooperation, fair trade with the South.
Return to top of page, or go to Companies on SD, Projects illustrating SD, Guidelines on SD, Routes to Sustainability
Last modified 19 November 1999