A Benchmark Study of Current Practices and Tools for Sustainability

Corporate social responsibility reporting is similar in concept to environment, health, and safety (EH&S) reporting, but with a broadened emphasis on social matters, such as ethical labor practices; training, education, and diversity of workforce; and corporate philanthropic initiatives. The terms “corporate social responsibility” and “sustainability” are used interchangeably by companies on a global basis, especially by multinational firms. There is considerable pressure on companies from stockholders, outside stakeholders, consumers, and other groups to demonstrate tangible benefits to the “triple bottom line”: economic value and environmental and social impacts.

Toward the end of the 1990s, EH&S managers began using EH&S management information solutions (EMIS) to streamline their EH&S data collection, manipulation, and reporting activities to save valuable time and money.2 Today, the trend is for EH&S managers to want to expand the use of their EMIS to capture sustainability metrics. Some EH&S managers have even expressed a desire to integrate their EMIS with a new set of tools: Corporate Sustainability Management Information Solutions (CSMIS).

Numerous EH&S professionals are undergoing or have already completed a change in their day-to-day responsibilities because there is a greater need and expectation by their employer to collect, compile, analyze, and report sustainability data. Some organizations (e.g., Dow Chemical, DuPont, and Home Depot) have created a separate management position to handle these responsibilities (e.g., Chief Sustainability Officer or Sustainability Manager),3 whereas other organizations have simply expanded the EH&S manager’s role to include these additional duties.

This article presents the results and conclusions drawn from a recent online, inter-industry survey of companies about their tools and drivers for managing sustainability data.

This article appeared in the Feb 2008 issue of EM Magazine, a publication of the Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA; www.awma.org ).  To obtain reprints, please contact AWMA directly at 1-412-232-3444.)

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