Roadmap for Integrated Sustainability

The Roadmap provides guidance for companies on how to integrate sustainability-related goals and strategies across the organization. Best practices are illustrated and the value that can be created across five stages of sustainability integration is highlighted.

Overview

An introduction to the Roadmap and the process of functional integration of sustainability into the organization's strategies and operations. Download,

5 Stages of Sustainability Integration

The typical journey of integrating sustainability into an organization follows 5 stages. Our model explains how companies move from a mostly reactive approach aimed at protecting the brand and reducing risks to a more proactive approach, where sustainability becomes a source of resource optimization and value creation. The 5 stage model helps identify corporate functions within the company that are most important to engage at each step, and what contributions each function can make to facilitate the process. Download.

3 Lenses to Integrating Sustainability

Strategy

Incorporating sustainability into the core strategy of an organization (enterprise, business unit or function). In this context, “strategy” is used to describe the deliberate or emergent choices (purpose, priorities, goals) that are made to distinctively position the enterprise, brand or product for sustainable competitive advantage and value creation. It’s about “Doing the right things”. Download.

An overview of the 3 lenses to integrating sustainability is available, download.

Operations

Executing and reviewing the performance of sustainability related strategies in the regular routine of an organization. This lens describes the processes, policies and practices put in place to improve the execution of strategy or sometimes called operational effectiveness. It’s about “Doing things right”. Download.

An overview of the 3 lenses to integrating sustainability is available, download.

Culture

Leveraging the unique identity, culture, purpose and strengths of an organization to advance sustainability and corporate success. To achieve a business’ potential, strategic and operational integration must consider the unique culture, identity and strengths of the organization and its components. Culture can be a significant barrier or powerful amplifier of executing strategy. Download.

An overview of the 3 lenses to integrating sustainability is available, download.

Which Organizational Functions Should be Your Priority?

To better understand which functions within your organization should be prioritized for sustainability integration it is recommended that you explore two questions. 1) What functions are necessary to drive progress toward current sustainability goals? 2) What functions are perceived to be particularly influential in the company’s value creation? Learn more.

Integrating Sustainability into Specific Organizational Functions

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the elected or appointed members of the organizational body whose duty is to oversee, but not manage, the activities of the company. In many countries this body is called the Board of Directors, but can in other countries be referred to as the Board of Governors or the Supervisory Board. Board duties vary across countries and jurisdictions, but typically include oversight of business strategy, risk management and legal compliance, as well as the recruitment and compensation of executives. Boards are uniquely positioned to drive change by overseeing the integration of sustainability into the company’s mission, strategy, goals and practices. Learn more.

Finance & Accounting

The Finance and Accounting function oversees a company’s long range strategic financial planning and budgeting by preparing, analyzing and reporting financial transactions and positions. Finance has typically focused on regulatory compliance and financial reporting but increasingly plays a key role in setting corporate strategy and providing analysis that supports long-term investment and capital allocation decisions. Integration of sustainability into this function is key to support the company’s sustainability objectives. Learn more.

General Counsel & Legal

The General Counsel and Legal function identifies and manages legal issues for the company, providing legal advice on compliance and dispute resolution at all levels of the organization, and supporting management in balancing business opportunities and risks. The emergence of material sustainability issues opens new opportunities for in-house legal professionals to leverage their position as a trusted advisor. Learn more.

Government Relations & Public Affairs

The Government Relations & Public Affairs function deals with how the company interacts with governments, legislators and regulators and how the company tries to influence and inform public policy issues through business associations, other interest groups and the media. Avoiding to directly and indirectly support policy positions that are seen to impede progress on social or environmental questions is essential for a company’s ability to credibly engage stakeholders on sustainability. Learn more.

Investor Relations

The Investor Relations function is responsible for the strategic, timely, accurate and compliant communication of the company’s financial performance to the investment community in an effort to secure fair market valuation of the company’s securities. In turn, this function offers management insights into capital markets to inform strategy setting and corporate decision making. Integration into Investor Relations enables the company to better understand the interest that both mainstream and socially responsible investors increasingly have in ESG information. Learn more. Spotlight on Investor Relations (September 2016).

Marketing, Branding & Public Relations

While considered distinct disciplines, Marketing, Branding and Public Relations functions interrelate to influence preferences and behaviours of target audiences by delivering clear, compelling messages and experiences. At its simplest level, branding creates an overall identity and story, marketing tells the story to activate the desired response and public relations manages relationships and reputation. Beyond promoting a company’s new, more sustainable innovations these functions are uniquely positioned to use a number of its traditional strengths to maximize the business value of a company’s sustainability efforts. Learn more.

Performance Management & Compensation

Traditionally structured as two separate sub-functions within the broader Human Resources discipline, Performance Management and Compensation reflects the process of planning, monitoring and evaluating an employee’s work objectives and overall contribution to the organization, as well as managing the monetary reward system in forms of pay, bonuses, stock options and other benefits. The inclusion of sustainability-related performance management and compensation criteria is often thought to signal a true integration of sustainability. Learn more.

Research & Development

The core purpose of the Research and Development function is to drive innovation, create new knowledge and discover solutions, leading to the development of new products, services or procedures or to the improvement of existing ones. It covers the application of science and engineering to develop new substances or technologies as well as the more concrete design, testing and adapting of processes, services, products and delivery systems. By challenging existing assumptions and paradigms sustainability-driven innovation can help to deliver totally new solutions and disrupt entire industries. Learn more.

Sales & Customer Service

The Sales and Customer Service function focuses nearly exclusively on customers to drive near term business revenue and margins through product positioning, pricing strategies, short-term promotions, and direct customer interactions before, during and after the sale. In most companies this function includes forecasting sales, monitoring competitive activity, prospecting for and retaining customers, and implementing partner programmes. This function can provide valuable insights to the company by directly representing the customer’s values, preferences and expectations. Learn more.

Strategic Planning & Business Development

The Strategic Planning and Business Development function is responsible for surveying external threats and opportunities, identifying industry and market trends and supporting the CEO and senior management in regularly updating the strategic vision and positioning the company. It plays an important role in defining the company’s future portfolio of products and markets, its key financial and business goals and the guidelines for different business units. This function will naturally have to play a key role in any effort to transform sustainability from a peripheral business activity to an integrate part of the company’s core business strategy. Learn more.

Supply Chain & Procurement

The Supply Chain and Procurement function encompasses all activities involved in the acquisition of direct and indirect goods and services from outside external sources. Supply chain and procurement management focusses on efficiently interactive with providers so that products are produced in the right quantities, at the right quality, at the right prices and delivered to the right locations in order to minimize system-wide costs while satisfying service-level requirements. Strategically by integrating sustainability this function can help to build stronger relationships with suppliers and tap their innovative capacity. Learn more. Spotlight on Supply Chain and Procurement (August 2016).