Is Sustainability Obsolete or Does it Just Need a Tune-up?

Jachen Zeitz, CEO of Puma, said “Sustainability has been slammed as an obsolete idea and only the starting point for companies and brands to play their part in helping the environment, social well being and economic prosperity.”  At the Boldness in Business Award Ceremony on March 16th he added, “We need a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we think and act beyond sustainability.”  His point was that we cannot and should not delegate sustainability responsibility to one department.  He emphasized that many shareholders are beginning to ask companies to behave in even more sustainable ways.  “A bold business is one that takes sustainability into the center of its vision and mission.”

At CAPACCIO, we have been making the argument that sustainability must become part of every business decision and part of how every employee does their job, day-in and day-out.  This is best accomplished by integrating sustainability into an overarching management system – a sustainability management system.  By creating an integrated management system with the social responsibility guidance from ISO 26000, a company will go a long way toward making sustainability part of our daily tasks. 

There are still countless publications addressing how different functional managers can address sustainability within the sphere of their control.  It would be more productive to have these functional managers work together in a strong governance position to make sure that sustainability is indeed integrated into the fabric of the business.  Instead of busting the silos as some pundits suggest, it is best to enable each specialized service to collectively use their skill to enable everyone to participate in this very important effort.  Management review has long been a requirement in ISO 14001.  The sustainability governance works on the same principle and enables all people to participate in the plan-do-check-act nature of sustainability in their business. 

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