10-step programme

Cisco and BT publish ten steps required for organisations to become sustainability-driven innovators.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  February 12, 2008

Cisco and BT publish ten steps required for organisations to become sustainability-driven innovators.

Organisations that wish to grow profitably in the future must focus their efforts to benefit shareholders, society and the environment simultaneously.

Concentrating on any one of these areas at the expense of the other two may compromise a business's long-term success. A focus on sustainability provides the best means to implement this triple-pronged strategy simultaneously, enabling organisations to innovate, differentiate themselves and succeed.

These are the key conclusions of a new paper published recently by a group of international academic experts on corporate responsibility and sustainability. The paper offers a new approach to how sustainability can build innovation and global collaboration across organisations. The paper, ‘A New Mindset for Corporate Sustainability', was sponsored by Cisco and BT.

Drawn from respected institutions in China, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, the academics offer business leaders concise advice based on a systematic appraisal of case studies, including Cemex, Marks & Spencer and Shenzhen Water, and the prevailing academic thinking on the subject worldwide. The paper also outlines the ten steps required for organisations to become sustainability-driven innovators.

Offering a new approach, which the academics have named S²AVE (Shareholder and Social Added Value with Environmental Restoration), the paper emphasises the role of sustainability in increasing innovation across the business and maintains that sustainability should be a strategy rather than an objective.

It concludes that the achievement of sustainability goals does not require extensive re-engineering of the corporate structure. Instead, it requires conviction and vision at the very highest levels of the organisation so that a set of values coherent with corporate responsibility and sustainability are instilled throughout.

Francois Barrault, CEO, BT Global Services, said, "BT and Cisco wanted to jointly create a project on a topic both companies felt strongly about. Also, we wanted it to be truly global, combining the technology solutions and infrastructure that we market together.

We think that the academics' findings bring into clear focus the challenges facing BT, Cisco and other companies around the world. Not only should we make sustainability an integral part of our strategies, but doing this will make our companies better and more competitive as a result.

Phil Smith, VP for technology marketing, Cisco, added, "It's essential that sustainability is at the heart of the strategic direction that businesses need to follow. The ability to collaborate across virtual teams, globally, will be the practical step to make this direction a reality. As this ‘world-first' project demonstrates, it is possible to create deep, innovative thinking across global teams using innovative new collaboration tools such as TelePresence.

Ten steps to sustainability

1. Make innovating for sustainability a part of your company's vision

2. Formulate a strategy with sustainability at its heart

3. Embed sustainability in every part of your business

4. Walk the talk

5. Set up a body with the power to make sustainability matter

6. Set firm rules

7. Bring your stakeholders on board

8. Use people power

9. Join the networks

10. Think beyond reporting: Align all business systems with the company's vision of sustainability

Source: A New Mindset for Corporate Sustainability

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