“In business, sustainability refers to doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.”
— Harvard Business Review
But how does business get the message out to wider society that sustainability is not purely environmental, but social and economic too? One way that organisations are tackling this is by regularly volunteering to have their sustainability credentials scrutinised by independent bodies who take a deep dive into the way businesses conduct themselves environmentally and ethically, as well as in terms of labour, human rights and sustainable procurement practices. Canon, for example, are one of tens of thousands of global companies who invite analysts from specialists such as EcoVadis and CDP to examine and score the way we do business. Of course, it’s always excellent news to receive a gold rating, as we have for six consecutive years from EcoVadis, but besides the accolade, what do sustainability ratings achieve?
A great advantage to being assessed by an organisation that also assesses many tens of thousands of other businesses lies in the creating a global standard for everyone to aspire to. In the case of EcoVadis, this benchmarking encompasses business practices that reach beyond the basics and investigates the way employees are treated and how procurement is conducted – even looking into the credentials of partners.
An independent body can objectively report on areas for improvement, which is an excellent way for organisations to fully understand what needs to happen next and then seek ways to make it happen. It also means that over a period of years, achievements can be recognised, and progress can be seen to be made. It might be said that sustainability assessments help to drive companies in the right direction.