Sustainability helps to create shared value. For this to happen, however, it must be translated into concrete practices, which in turn must be properly understood and known about in order to deliver the expected benefits.
That doesn’t always happen. On the contrary, for companies engaged in “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), one of the additional difficulties is ensuring that their commitment to environmental and social responsibility is properly evidenced and communicated. That is, something that can contribute significantly to success in making a difference and developing competitive advantage.
For many years certifications have contributed to some extent to this, including environmental certifications, documents attesting compliance (of a product, a service, a management system and so on) with specific guidelines or regulations. Whether issued by official regulatory bodies or the result of initiatives by individual institutions and multi-stakeholder organizations, certifications remain little more than a meaningless set of initials for too many members of the public and consumers.
However, given that sustainable development is a multi-stakeholder process, perhaps it is time to make more of them, to improve them and work together to make them an even more reliable, recognized and effective communication tool.