Sustainability & CSR: Final Assignment
Final Written Individual Assignment
Briefly, the final assignment is to build a case for why a company should do
sustainability and CSR programs. To do this, you need to:
1.) Assess the costs and, more importantly, the many substantial and strategic
benefits of doing a sustainability and CSR. Utilizing the class readings and case
discussions in your answer This part of the paper is 66% of final paper grade.
2.) Read and assess a single company’s CSR, sustainability, or citizenship report.
First, you have to choose a report that no one else in the class has chosen, and list
the report chosen on the Canvas discussion board. Explain the extent to which
the company recognizes and takes responsibility for the various social and
environmental impacts of its business that you identify. This is 33% of final
paper report grade.
1. Cite the course readings in the final assignment in completing this assignment. The
readings have been carefully selected!
2. Sources used from outside the course readings are NOT NECESSARY but can be used.
If you use other sources, these must be carefully and correctly cited, and your report
should NOT plagiarize or you will fail the course. Any outside sources must be clearly
indicated and documented, and not simply by a web address.
3. If you cite a course article, you can just cite the author’s name or case name.
A) Executive Summary of one page or less. This is standard in business.
B) Social sustainability: Create a list of the internal benefits of CSR and social
sustainability initiatives. These should be put in a table format. This includes the
benefits that can accrue to employees, stakeholders, as well as the company in doing
these programs. Citing the readings (not the cases) are important here, as they
discuss many benefits.
For example, one benefit is a charitable donation. The benefit provide a tax
deduction, hence the company reaps a financial benefit. It also possibly garners
some good will by consumers (if it is reported by the media). There may be other
benefits as well that are strategic and related to effective management.
The Dannon case provides as a good example that illustrate some of the internal
social sustainability values of CSR programs. Explain why it was not their priority to
advertise their CSR activities. Explain how a CSR strategy “fit” the firm’s
management culture that values employees.
C) Environmental Sustainability: Discuss the emerging opportunities in the
evolving “green markets.” In this part, cite strategic opportunities to pursuing green
markets. One part of this would be to summarize the different green markets in the
Clorox case and provide the strategic discussion as to how they successfully
developed green brands. Summarize the benefits of these efforts for marketing,
branding, reputation enhancement, etc.
D) Write a critique of a company’s CSR or Sustainability report that you read.
Explain how the firm defined their specific “responsibility” in the report. Cite any
shortcomings and weaknesses. Don’t just parrot what the report says. Be tough.
Ask important questions. Raise issues:
Is the company doing enough?
Is it effective in taking action?
Is the company fully transparent in addressing all social and environmental
responsibility concerns of all stakeholders, or is it just an exercise in trying to
get favorable public relations?
What would you suggest that the company needs to do to be fully
In the above assignment, do NOT forget the benefits that accrue to people, consumers,
localities, and other stakeholders as well as the planet. Sustainability is not just about
money (or solely an instrumental benefits to the firm’s shareholders alone). Triple
bottom line thinking is required. Benefits are financial, social, and environmental, and
these benefits are related to each other.
Beyond Mere Opinion
Mark J. Kay
PhD, MBA, MA, MFA
About the final paper
• The two parts of the final paper are related.
• The paper helps to develop the skills needed in
corporations to help employees (a) initiate CSR
programs and (b) aid in CSR reporting.
• You folks, MBA students, you have read annual
reports, and these teach some important things.
– Note that these are required by public companies to
inform potential investors and adhere to reporting
• On the other hand, though CSR reports are largely
voluntary, they have benefits as well, and these need
to be studied as well.
Final Assignment Review
Assess the costs and benefits of doing
sustainability / CSR
– While managers commonly need to make a solid
“business case” within a company, today it is
more a question of “how” not “why”
– Many internal benefits to the firm & shareholders
– The pull of external green markets
– Other benefits (think triple!)
Triple bottom line thinking
“Value creation” is more than the
corporation and its financial interests
“Corporate responsibility reporting has
become a de facto standard for
business, and it enhances the financial
value of companies that do it.”
-The KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility
Reporting (2011, 2013, 2015)
Most reporting adhere to GRI
standards and frameworks
• GRI (the Global Reporting Initiative) is an international
• Founded in Boston in 1997 by the Coalition for
Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and
the Tellus Institute.
• Ninety-five percent of the G250 now report on their
corporate responsibility activities, and most use GRI
• (Yes there are other types of reporting)
• Mission: to make sustainability reporting
standard practice for all companies and
Guidelines was launched in 2000
G2 was unveiled in 2002
G3 in 2006
G4 was launched in May 2013
About CSR Reporting
– accelerates and influences organizational change
faster than would occur without public scrutiny.
• Numerical targets focus efforts
– There is a clear pressure to take action to make
sure the numbers improve in the next report
Global Reporting Initiative structure
According to a 2011 global survey by KPMG
(and later studies)
U.S. companies are “scratching the
surface” of corporate responsibility,
concentrating on communication
more than performance
Execs believe that consumers are
Consumers getting smarter and
more connected, making
transparency much more important
Some companies combine their
annual reporting with CSR reporting
• Helps to set goals, measure performance, and
• Makes abstract issues tangible and concrete,
thereby assisting management
• GRI says a “materiality focus” makes reports
more relevant, more credible, and more userfriendly
• Principle: The organization should identify its
stakeholders, and explain how it has
responded to their reasonable expectations
• Principle: The report should present the
organization’s performance in the wider
context of sustainability.
• Principle: The report should cover Aspects
Reflect the organization’s significant economic,
environmental and social impacts; or
Substantively influence the assessments and
decisions of stakeholders
• Principle: The report should include coverage
of material Aspects and their Boundaries,
sufficient to reflect significant economic,
environmental and social impacts, and to
enable stakeholders to assess the
organization’s performance in the reporting
Let’s get organizizied!
Yep, do that in the final paper!
How to Determine Benefits?
• There are soft and hard benefits
• Some can be quantified, others harder to
measure but are real
Triple bottom line thinking
• Business Benefits:
– More profit: new products, innovation
– Less cost: reduce waste
• Social benefits: Value for society
– Benefits reflect the firm’s position
• Environmental benefits: Preserve planetary
– What is the eco-footprint?
CSR Report Analysis
• REPORTS vary a lot
• Assess a company’s CSR, sustainability, or
• Explain the extent to which the company
recognizes and takes responsibility for the
social and environmental impacts of its
– These vary by industry, context, etc.
Responsibilities in Reporting
• What are the harms to the environment in
term of use & overuse of resources?
• Does the company acknowledge any
responsibility to society?
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