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Executive Report: Valuing Business Sustainability

Measure the value of sustainable business activities with tools and metrics.

NBS reviewed 30 years of reputable research and 159 studies to answer the question, “Does CSR create value for a firm?”

Metrics for Valuing Business Sustainability: An Introductory Guide synthesizes this research and outlines the mechanisims linking CSR activities to financial performance. It contains a framework to help you measure the business case for sustainability in your organization and suggests specific tools to guide your analysis.

Valuing CSR allows it to compete for capital.

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.

This report equips financial decision-makers with the evidence from contemporary research. It will:

  • enable sustainability champions to understand and communicate the monetary value of CSR investments;

  • provide a starting point for managers eager to measure sustainability investments, but unsure where to begin;

  • help you affirm or improve your organization’s current valuation model.

How do I measure CSR? Choose your metrics.

The report identifies three categories of metrics to guide your firm through the measurement process.


The easiest to measure, these are the end-state metrics with which the market evaluates performance, such as stock price or return on capital.


Operational metrics capture the direct bottom-line impacts of CSR activities, and represent specific changes in costs or revenues associated with an activity.


The hardest CSR impacts to capture are those metrics that reflect a firm’s improved position strategically, i.e. a firm’s ability to create value and manage risk, or intangibles such as customer loyalty and employee satisfaction.

This framework is designed to help financial executives and sustainability managers translate their CSR activities into dollars. By no means exhaustive, the framework presents examples of financial, operational, and strategic metrics and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.


Who Should Read the Report

  • Senior financial decision-makers: CFOs can request that their organization’s sustainability decision-makers measure CSR initiatives using these metrics.

  • Senior sustainability decision-makers: CSR leaders can use this framework to build – or justify – their departmental budgets.

  • Executives: CEOs can use this framework to report meaningfully on CSR activities to directors and investors.

  • Any other senior executives and decision-makers involved in strategy, operations, finance, and human resources can use this report to develop their business case for sustainability.

Watch the Webinar on How CSR Pays


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