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2008 Canadian Business Sustainability Priorities

2008 inaugurated NBS’s yearly announcement of sustainability challenges facing Canadian business. These issues are then addressed through research.

2008 marks the inaugural year for NBS’s Challenges report. With these reports, we hope to raise awareness about business sustainability issues and inspire new research to address them. Armed with this knowledge, researchers, managers, and others can collaborate to new, sustainable solutions.

This year, seven issues were identified by our Leadership Council: a council of managers from leading organizations across major sectors of the economy.

The 2008 challenges include a core issue in sustainability: the business case for action. A secondary priority is also fundamental: effective engagement with stakeholders.

Top 7 Sustainability Challenges in 2008

  1. What are the business tools with which managers can value the business case for sustainability?

  2. What are the best practices in community engagement?

  3. What are the elements of a successful sustainability culture, in which sustainability becomes an enduring part of the firm’s identity among employees, the board, and management?

  4. What public policy measures exist to engage capital markets (e.g. amendments to the Canada Pension Plan Act)?

  5. What are the minimum acceptable standards for ethical sourcing? How far down the supply chain should the firm apply its standards? What information should be available from suppliers regarding products and processes?

  6. What data are reported and how has that changed over time? What metrics or reporting schemes are most effective and efficient, especially for financial analysts?

  7. How can the risk and opportunity to the firm’s brand(s) be measured and managed within the context of sustainability?

Addressing Challenges through Research

Every year, NBS will fund research on priorities identified by the Leadership Council. Each project will systematically review and synthesizes the rigorous information from academic and practitioner sources on a given topic, with an emphasis on completeness, replicability, and transparency.

In 2008, our priority projects cover the business case and community engagement.

Business Case for Sustainability

Describing CSR activities in terms of their impact on the bottom line enables financial decision-makers to compare CSR investments to other organizational priorities. Once CSR investments are translated into a common language, they can compete for capital alongside other firm activities.

NBS commissioned a year-long research project in response to this challenge. Read the resulting Executive Report and Systematic Review.

Community Engagement

Companies are increasingly expected to reach out beyond their traditional constituencies of shareholders, employees, and regulators to make a positive social and environmental impact. Truly effective community engagement involves complex decisions about who to work with (or through), how to engage, and what likely result to achieve.

NBS commissioned a year-long research project in response to this priority. Read the resulting Executive Briefing and Systematic Review.

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