ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Corporate Sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Updated on November 3, 2013

Business Sustainability

Sustainability is one of the hottest topics of the 21st century, with much coverage in academic literature, on the political scene, in media, as well as in business. The most recognized and quoted definition of sustainability is, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” as was devised in 1987 by the United Nation (U.N.) World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), also known as the ‘Brundtlandt Commission’.

It is being increasingly recognizes that the current approach to development is inadequate and a sustainable one is required. This recognition is being echoed in the business world as well, which brings us to the next concept - corporate sustainability.

Corporate sustainability originated with "green teams"

The idea of "green teams" originated with a group of employees who would gather to share ideas about environmental efforts in the community and the idea grew into corporate sustainability with support from the executive suite. Members of the Corporate Responsibility Officer Association (CROA) are usually the people within organizations who have primary responsibility for sustainability initiatives in the organizations where they work.

The triple bottom line refers to the three factors which contribute to corporate sustainability

The triple bottom line or the three P's - profit, people and planet are the three long-term factors that contribute to corporate sustainability
The triple bottom line or the three P's - profit, people and planet are the three long-term factors that contribute to corporate sustainability | Source

What is Corporate Sustainability?

Corporate sustainability essentially refers to companies’ efforts to reduce the negative effects they have on people, the environment, and on the economies where they operate. The three components - economic, environmental and social are commonly referred to the as the triple bottom line (TBL) framework and are interlinked. The idea is that companies have an effect on the people where they do business, on the local environment, as well as the economy and so companies should take action and commit to reducing negative effects.

Examples of each component of the triple bottom line is explained below:

  • Social: This refers to companies' commitment to gender equality, diversity, workplace health and safety, retention initiatives, human rights, etc.
  • Economic: This refers to profitability, job creation, expenditures on outsourcing and human capital, etc.
  • Environmental: This refers to companies' efforts to decrease the negative impacts their products / services have on air, water, land, biodiversity, peoples' health; their commitments to increase energy efficiency; reducing waste; etc. Environmental initiatives such as reducing carbon footprint are generally considered "low-hanging fruit" which showcase companies efforts to "go green" and help improve organizational reputations.

With an increasing amount of stakeholders - including employees, investors, and customers paying attention to companies' corporate sustainability efforts, companies are re-engineering their supply chains to make them "greener" and are increasingly supporting social causes within communities.


Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been used interchangeably with the concept of corporate sustainability but it's important to understand that corporate sustainability goes beyond the concept of CSR. Corporate social responsibility, which is also sometimes referred to as corporate citizenship traditionally refer to companies' ethical practices particularly within the society where they operate. Therefore, CSR is only one aspect of the TBL, whereas corporate sustainability entails the social aspect, and goes beyond it to include environmental and economic aspects as well.

Corporate sustainability programs are a good way for companies to show that they are good corporate citizens, and not only concerned with their financial performance. CSR programs that have been popular in recent years include those centered around community health, education and development.

Did you know that corporate sustainability reporting has become the norm amongst the world's largest companies?

A 2011 KPMG study on corporate sustainability reporting revealed that a whopping 95% of the of the largest 250 companies (G250) are now reporting their effects on the people, economy, and the environment where they operate.

Benefits of Corporate Sustainability

It's be being increasingly recognized that incorporating corporate sustainability into business makes good business sense and creates unique business value. Benefits of corporate sustainability initiatives include improved company reputation, enhanced employee morale, and strengthened competitiveness, amongst others.

Corporate sustainability is an important concept that is growing in relevance as the demand for natural resources around the world keeps growing but their supply diminishing. Particularly, large companies that have a heavy social and/or environmental footprint are being encouraged and prompted to account for their performance in difference spheres, increasing transparency, developing employees and using resources more efficiently. "Green business" is a bandwagon many large organizations are driving or at least jumping onto.

Does your employer engage in Corporate Sustainability efforts?

See results

A great video explaining the concept of sustainability


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)