Tag Archives: strategy

A checklist to improve your CSR program!

Red exotic flowerWe have decided to publish a series of 8 press releases, along with blog articles, providing organizations with a checklist of questions they can ask to easily identify potential improvement areas in the sustainability/CSR management.

The first one focuses on the overall CSR strategy, and is divided into 6 main themes:

1 –  Is the management engaged?

2 – Are employees involved?

3 – Are stakeholders consulted?

4 – Is the sustainability strategy intertwined with the overall strategy?

5 – Is a mechanism review implemented to measure the efficiency of the strategy?

6 Does the company communicate about the CSR program?

The above points should ensure that the CSR/sustainability program is efficient.

First, the management needs to understand the importance of such topics, at least in terms of risks and opportunities. It is better to assign dedicated roles and responsibilities to make sure that topics are taken into account.

To ensure the success of the CSR program, it is important that employees are aware of such programs and can actively take part in it. Employees are the ambassadors of the company, which means that they can influence the reputation of the company. Also, such initiatives can reinforce their motivation.

Third, all stakeholders (not only management or employees) need to be consulted and engaged as the role of CSR is to manage impacts towards them. Their opinions and ideas are thus required.

From a strategical standpoint, the CSR program makes even more sense when it is embedded in the overall strategy. In this sense, organizations can prioritize topics which are relevant to address them. This can ensure a long-term strategy, which will be beneficial for the stakeholders and the organization.

Once the strategy is decided, the program can be rolled out. With this, it is paramount to set quantitative targets that will be measured by specific metrics. The metrics will show the success of the initiatives, and are a way to reassess the strategy and its objectives.

Finally, such successes and decisions should be communicated to impacted stakeholders, included involved employees and the management, so that they understand the efficiency of the CSR program. Such communication also acts as a basis for discussions.

To discover the full checklist for the overall CSR program, please go to http://dfge.de/en/checklist-to-easily-improve-sustainability-programs/ or contact us at info@dfge.de


Define your sustainable procurement strategy with the SDGs

Cliff and blue seaSince their adoption, there is an ongoing discussion how SDGs can be integrated and used by businesses; indeed, the SDGs explicitly name companies as contributors to a solution for sustainable development challenges. This article describes how the SDGs can be used as a framework for sustainable procurement strategy.

Sustainable procurement means turning risks into opportunities

Many risks companies face today are located in the supply chain and refer to reputation (corporate image) and strategy. First, deficits in the supply chain can damage a company’s reputation severely. This refers both to social and environmental issues; a widely known example is BP whose reputation was damaged due to the company’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. While every supply chain issue can cause direct financial cost for a company, reputation damage is something which can last for a very long time and which can hit a company in multiple ways. Despite lower sales, a reputation damage can for example also discourage talented people from applying for a job at the company.

Secondly, it can also be a strategic risk for a company not to manage its supply chain properly. If future scarcities of resources which are essential for a company’s operations are not properly accounted for in the strategy, and if a company is therefore not prepared to future price rises, it endangers its economic viability in the long term.

To tackle such risks, companies can implement sustainable procurement. It means that they can set standards that their suppliers need to follow. It consists of integrating sustainability criteria into the supply chain. On the one hand, risks are reduced. Indeed, if the supplier environmental system is solid, accidents and crisis should be solved quicker, reducing operational risks. If there is sound social dialogue and decent working conditions, there are less risks of strikes and of related production disruption. If human rights are respected, the reputation risk is managed. In the other hand, companies can benefit from various opportunities: more collaboration, more trust, innovation and new products, customer satisfaction, …

How can now the SDGs help companies to address and structure supply chain management?

You can tune your sustainable procurement strategy with the SDGs

The SDGs essentially represent a framework which addresses the full scope of sustainability topics and actors. The strength of this framework lies in its global acceptance and popularity; thus, using this framework for CSR communications means lowering the threshold of stakeholders to understand and back a company’s CSR strategy, including the sustainable procurement strategy.

The SDG Compass, issued by the Global Reporting Initiative gives an overview, how companies can link these targets to their business. By means of a high-level mapping of their value chain, companies can first identify topics where impacts are likely to occur. In the end, it should be clear whether core competencies, technologies and product portfolio of a company have rather positive or rather negative influence. This mapping process includes external stakeholder participation which adds additional aspects and points of view to the process. It is highly important to interact with the suppliers to understand what the impacts are, and where they occur. Indeed, in some cases such impacts are located only in the supply chain. For example, any retailer will avoid the potential risks linked to manufacturing, like occupational health and safety linked to machine use and high resource consumption. To do so, companies can ask suppliers about such risks during business reviews, make a quick analysis of their website or resort to risk databases.

After the mapping, a company should set measurable and time-bound goals to reflect the priorities and adopt related indicators. Such indicators express the relation between the company’s activities and the impact on stakeholders, and data for these indicators should be collected. Depending on the magnitude, severity and likelihood of current and potential negative impacts, a company then prioritizes indicators. Indicators linked to the supply chain need to reflect actual actions: share of suppliers considered at risk, share of suppliers audits, share of suppliers completing corrective action plan, share of successful re-audits, number of products including new sustainable features thanks to supplier collaboration, …

These preconditions met, a company is ready to integrate sustainability into its sourcing practices. In the case of supply chain, active leadership by the procurement management is key to implement the company’s requirements. A shared understanding of how value is created by becoming more sustainable help to anchor the set sustainable procurement strategy. In this sense, the company needs to communicate such requirements to the procurement department, who then interacts with the suppliers. Another best practice is the integration of sustainability goals into supplier performance reviews.

Finally, progress has to be constantly reported in order to demonstrate credibility. Results should be communicated to both suppliers and buyers. To ensure transparency throughout the supply chain, it is important to communicate such results publically. Indeed, clients of the company might also want to want to know what happens in the upstream supply chain. In this sense, the use internationally recognized reporting standards such as GRI, CDP or others is recommended in order to achieve comparability between companies.

For more information, contact us at info@dfge.de or visit our page on Sustainability Management.

Understand GRI in 2 minutes

What is the purpose of GRI?

GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) is an internationally recognized standard for CSR reporting to help organizations set goals, measure performance, and manage change in order to make their operations more sustainable. The guidelines are now in their 4th version (G4).

G4 process in a few words:
– Identify your company’s “Material Aspects”, e.g. the environmental, social and other CSR impacts that your organization is facing and how they relate to the broader sustainability context. In this sense, you will be focused only on what truly matters and how it impacts your stakeholders. When defining such issues, it is fundamental to consult them to match your organization’s priorities with theirs. This step is also called “Defining Report Content”.
– Prepare the data to be submitted in the report: the “General Standard Disclosures” (including “Material Aspects” and “Stakeholder Engagement”) and “Specific Standard Disclosures”, whose contents will depend on the “Identified Material Aspects”. Here you can choose the extent to which your company wishes to report, with “Core” and “Comprehensive” option. During this step, “Principles for Quality” are to be complied to make sure that the report is comparable, accurate, understandable,…
Write and shape the report. You can choose any structure, for instance according to your strategy’s pillars. You just need to include the GRI index showing the indicators can be found. If the report is not complete, a given statement will be added.
Publish your report and notify GRI.

What are the benefits?

  • Identify CSR priorities
  • Track performance
  • Benefit from competitive advantage
  • Enhance relations with stakeholders
  • Facilitate comparability

DFGE is happy to answer your questions and provide more support.

For more information, please consult the GRI-Website or check this video focusing on the differences between GRI3 and GRI4:

Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point


by MIT Sloan Management Review. Read the full report: http://mitsmr.com/A3PZo7

The DFGE TopDown Approach for Executing an Ecological Assessment for Organisations

How to focus on Carbon Footprinting within your C(S)R strategy

Most companies today try to put every effort they make around corporate responsibility in every information and report they generate to show that they act sustainable. Most of the time it happens that they mix up everything they do when they want to communicate their carbon-footprint approach. They should focus on these points:

1 – focus on one topic
If you want to talk about carbon footprint only put elements of a particular carbon footprint into your work. Don’t mix it up with your efforts eg. the in-house kindergarten. This is also somehting worth to talk about, but shows that you’re not able to seperate climate protection and social responsibiltiy.

2 – communicate clear strategy
Show the “why” and “how” to your stakeholders. Embed your carbon-footprint-project in your company goals. People want to understand if you are just one of the followers which only change their company logo into green or if you really understood sustainability as an option to drive your business.

3 – show transparency
The worst calculations I can imagine are numbers like “in 2007 our emissions were around 2,700 tons of carbon dioxide” – without any details like:
– what was measured
– what was not measured
– which methodology (see next point) was used
– how big is the failure or the uncertainty in the calculations
– was this critically reviewed
– what were the balance boundaries
– ……
Such numbers rise much more questions than answers and casts a damning light on the company.

4- rely on an established methodology
As mentioned before the methodology is beside the proper transperancy the key for carbon-footprint calculation. Only a good methodology makes the findings traceable, reliable and comparable. Otherwise the calculation just shows that you only calculated the parts which are good for you and neglected the other effects. This is typcial for most life cycle assessments (LCA) in this context. The “good” companies will show the impacts on the whole life-cylce of products – bad ones only show you one slice of it.

5 – show that ecology and economy isn’t a conflict
Talking to the responsible persons of the quality management or sustainability in companies shows clearly that there is no discrepancy between doing something good for the envirionment AND making more money. In the ideal case you always will get both. Or the other way round – in my eyes it is not so clever for a company to have only costs for their sustainable approach. Smart companies will get more revenue or cost-savings out of their efforts.

6 – integrate it in your processes
Don’t see sustainability, voluntary carbon calculations or footprinting as alien. In most cases companies already have proper systems and processes reflecting also the needs of such new requirements. It’s just a question of how to adjust them to come to an good output.

7 – define your balance boundaries
Be honest – tell the people what you measured and what not. Give reasons why! Your stakeholders will not interfere with you if they have the good feeling that you have an holistic approach. But believe me – they will ask you the dumbest questions if they recognize that you only took the most obvious parts.

8 – make smaller steps rather than the big shot
Do not try to make the perfect solution right from the start. Take you time to learn how the new requirements influence you current business processes. Also communicate this learning process.

9 – work on constant improvement
Rome was not built in one day – and nor will your system for sustainability. Make your long term goals but try to innovate individual solutions on this journey. Every industry sector has own requirements and chances.