Principles of Organizational Sustainability

Principles provided within the sustainability management system are defined as a fundamental basis for decision making or management and staff behavior. Here are some examples of principles that might be used for an organizational sustainability program:

  1. Our organization exists to create and protect value for our employees, customers, and stakeholders

  2. Sustainability is an integral part of how we operate, not a “bolt-on” effort

  3. Sustainability is embedded into how all decisions are made every day at all levels in the organization

  4. Sustainability is systematic, structures, and timely, thereby helping us to address uncertainty posed by our internal and external operating environments

  5. Our leaders’ understanding of sustainability is based on the best information from the knowledge of our members or employees and the collective wisdom of our entire value chain and all our external stakeholders

  6. Sustainability is tailored to our organization to help us meet our strategic and operational objectives in a transparent and inclusive manner

  7. Our organization takes human and cultural factors into account in our sustainability program

  8. Our vision of sustainability is dynamic, interactive, and responsive to changes in our internal and external operating environments

  9. Our organization uses sustainability to help us innovate so that we can continually improve our quest to meet our objectives.

All processes in an integrated organizational sustainability management system are informed and guided by these principles. This is called “giving effect” to the principles. Employees and other stakeholders should be able to express what each of the stated principles means to them based on the information that is provided by the organization. These principles also inform the leaders’ management and their commitment to risk management and organizational sustainability.

The organization must seek to make everyone aware and conversant with each of the sustainability principles. Knowing how these words are used to describe the principle helps create understanding of each item. Of course, the significance of the principles will vary depending on the role and responsibility of each person in the organization that uses these statements. The focus of developing awareness of the principles should be on how each principle helps the organization better use them to meet help meet its strategic objectives.

It is worth taking some time to see how these principles work in helping to embed organizational sustainability into the organization. When asked in an organization, “Who is in charge of the organizational sustainability program?”…the answer should be, “EVERYONE is in charge of sustainability! It should be evident to see that if these principles are given effect by every employee of the organization, then sustainabilit8y is an important part of how they do their work every day. It is no longer about so-called “green team” involvement. Instead, it is about how people create effective processes and efficient operations and about the role of every to engage with one another to execute the efficacious sustainability strategy.

Presented By:

Robert B. Pojasek,


Chairman, Education and Research Executive Board (EREB)

Managing Director

Center for Corporate Performance & Sustainability

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