From an ethical point of view it is legitimate to argue, that only companies that base their business on ethical and moral values can be called responsible and sustainable: companies that do not have a “business case for CSR” and which might even be more profitable if they were less responsible.
Facing reality, a survey by KPMG found that 74% of company CR reports identified economic considerations as a driver for corporate responsibility.
Therefore benefits of a more sustainable and profitable business model need to be quantified and numbers need to show that sustainability-related strategies generate positive impacts on brand value and reputation, risk reduction and business opportunities, innovation and competitiveness and last not but least on several financial performance indicators.
Bob Willard assumes that the impact on profit if sustainability strategies are used, can range from 51% to 81% profit improvements in three to five years.
Global Manufacturing Sustainability Director John Maguire of Unilever says “Putting sustainability at the heart of our business model in 2010 has undoubtedly been a solid starting point. Our sustainability program not only helps us to ensure best practice; it’s also an effective engine for growth. While working towards our 1 million tonnes CO2 reduction, our sales grew by 26 percent, from €40.5 billion in 2008 to €51.3 billion in 2012.
Between 1990 and 2010, IBM saved 5.4 billion kWh of electricity consumption, avoided nearly 3.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and saved $399 million through its annual energy conservation actions.
Interface committed itself to a zero-waste-strategy and eliminates waste including product design, packaging and transportation. Since 1996 the waste reduction efforts have resulted in an 84% decrease in total waste to landfillsand saved $372 million in avoided waste costs by 2010.
A study by Bob Doppler and Lisa Watson found that 108 organizations generated a total annual savings of over $55 million through the application of energy efficiency, renewable energy, solid waste reduction, re-use, recycling and other sustainability measures.
It pays to be “green”.