2014 March Green Guru Spotlight: Using Sustainability Advisory Councils to accelerate sustainability


The March Green Guru Spotlight is on Sustainability Advisory Councils and how companies can successfully use them to accomplish higher levels of sustainability.

Interface founder, the late Ray Anderson, was a pioneer in corporate sustainability. He set Interface on its ambitious journey towards sustainability in 1994, and soon realized that he would need a revolutionary way of doing business to achieve his goal of a zero-footprint company by 2020 (Mission Zero). He created what he called the ECO Dream Team, a panel of authors, scientists, activists, and entrepreneurs, that would help Interface create an environmental roadmap to achieve its lofty sustainability goals. Since then, Interface has received many awards for its sustainability accomplishments and for its trail blazing developments such as modifying machines to use old carpet as raw material. Today, Interface still relies on its Eco Dream Team of environmental thinkers and experts to help it towards its goal of Mission Zero. 

Roche has been named the Super-sector Leader in healthcare by Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) five years in a row (2009-2013). Roche has integrated sustainability into its business because of the belief that only environmentally and socially responsible companies can achieve sustainable financial success. The corporate governance structure includes the Corporate Governance and Sustainability Committee. In late 2002, Roche established the Corporate Sustainability Committee (CSC) to be responsible for developing sustainability strategies and guidelines, and for reporting on progress.  It is also responsible for assessing social, environmental and ethical risks. The Corporate Sustainability Committee submits regular reports to the Corporate Executive Committee and the Corporate Governance and Sustainability Committee.  The Corporate Sustainability Committee has representatives from across the organization and is made up of a Core Team, a Working Group and Expert Groups.

HP has a long and storied history of social and environmental responsibility and has ranked high on several rankings such as Newsweek Green Rankings, DJSI, FTSE4Good, and CDP among others. HP’s Global Citizenship Council is comprised of executives and subject matter experts from across HP and meets regularly to ensure companywide commitment to and alignment with HP’s global citizenship objectives. The Global Citizenship Council seeks input and guidance from internal groups and from external stakeholders. HP has also established separate councils dedicated to areas such as the environment, supply chain responsibility, corporate ethics, and privacy, all of which help HP achieve its sustainability and other corporate responsibility goals.

Unilever launched its Sustainable Living Plan in 2010, a 10 year journey towards sustainability, which set out over 50 social, economic and environmental targets. The Unilever leadership recognized that many of the issues that the Plan addresses are outside of its direct control and would require collaborating with and engaging external groups and entities. A robust governance structure has been created to accomplish the goals set out in the Sustainable Living Plan.  The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Steering Team, made up of the leaders of internal groups such as R&D, Marketing etc., supports the Unilever Leadership Executive. The Unilever Sustainable Development Group (USDG) is a group of external specialists in corporate responsibility and sustainability who guide and advise the Steering Team and the Leadership, and help develop the strategy to accomplish the goals of the Sustainable Living Plan. 

Do you know any other good examples of Sustainability Committees or Councils that have been used effectively to accomplish corporate responsibility goals?  Start a discussion here after logging in or send an email to greenguru@sustainablesv.org.


Green Guru: Suparna Vashisht, March 2014


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