We believe that to be successful, sustainability and corporate responsibility must be embedded in the core of our clients’ strategy and operations. We work with private and public sector organizations to identify emerging opportunities and develop robust business cases to address a variety of issues, ranging from resource scarcity to fair trade, to foster a competitive advantage and long term growth. In short, we help make sustainability sustainable.

​Sustainability encompasses all aspects of sustainable business practices, addressing relevant social, environmental, regulatory and human-welfare issues responsibly and profitably. Suppliers, employees, customers, shareholders, governments and communities all have specific agendas that need to be understood and managed. Companies need to take control of their sustainability agenda before others try to do it for them. Doing so also means accepting responsibility for the full value chain, not just a company's direct footprint.

Buttressing the idea that sustainability is rapidly becoming a prerequisite for profitable growth are such indicators as a recent study showing that at least two-thirds of 25,000 consumers in the US, Canada and Western Europe form impressions based partly on a company's ethics, environmental impact and social responsibility—or that over 60% of employees state that a company's commitment to sustainable business practices is "extremely important."

The first step for companies is to prioritize their sustainability issues—which are not necessarily the issues in the headlines in any given week. Companies will have different sustainability issues rise to the forefront based on their industry, their strategy and operations and their geographical footprint, among other considerations. Sustainability issues need to be evaluated through additional lenses, including the implications of new regulations on your business, the cost (or savings) of addressing the issue, the impact on customer demand for your products or services and how it affects your ability to recruit and retain employees.

The second step in managing sustainability is ensuring that any moves make strategic sense and are backed up by sound business cases. In other words, by integrating sustainability decisions with traditional analysis, companies can figure out how to gain a competitive advantage over the long term.

 Sustainability used to be an ill-defined term, interpreted in many different ways by companies, governments, suppliers, and consumers. Today, sustainability is high on the agendas of most companies. Management teams and employees are concerned about the planet and their impact on it. Organizational leaders are also concerned about their corporate reputations, the impact of sustainability on their brands, the risk of supply interruption, and rising costs of unsustainable production practices.

Consumers Care about Sustainability

The benefits of sustainable business practices extend beyond the obvious. Hiring may be easier, as more young people today consider sustainable firms as employers of choice. Sustainable goals can also trigger the development of innovative products and processes that lead to new revenues. Preliminary research suggests that customers value sustainable companies more highly than non-sustainable companies, perhaps because these companies are perceived as explicitly managing contingent risks.

Seven Ways to Sustainability

AaronRichards' sustainability offering focuses on seven measures:

  1. Develop a sustainability strategy that aligns with the corporate business strategy to improve business performance and simultaneously improve a company's social and environmental impact
  2. Benchmark sustainability performance by industry and by best-of-breed players in other industries
  3. Determine the programs, tools, measurement processes, incentives, and goals necessary to ensure successful implementation of a sustainability strategy
  4. Ensure that procurement processes are sustainable and take into account the triple-bottom-line (the social, environmental, and economic impact) of all organizational activities
  5. Use strategic sourcing to save money and the planet
  6. Manage the opportunities, risks, and consequences of moving to an integrated sustainability strategy—one that incorporates issues never before considered in organizational decision making
  7. Create strategic planning scenarios to decipher the impact of changing customer attitudes, specific government legislation, competitors' sustainability decisions, the changing availability and cost of inputs such as raw material, transportation, water, and energy

Approaching Sustainability Strategically

More firms today see sustainability as a tool to improve their brands, rather than an isolated or non-core project separate from business operations and strategy. The top companies often evaluate their activities by explicitly considering the triple-bottom-line—the economic, social, and environmental consequences of their investments.

We help clients approach sustainability strategically, as we:

  1. Measure the benefits of sustainability products for consumers and customers
  2. Determine the brand value of improving corporate sustainability performance
  3. Benchmark sustainability performance against competitors and industry leaders
  4. Develop impact databases and tools for influencing internal decision making and negotiating the impact with upstream and downstream stakeholders​
  5. Analyze the economic, social, and environmental impact of sustainable procurement in all sourcing activities, and alternative procurement strategies in developing countries
  6. Measure the economic, social, and environmental impact on an end-to-end value chain of suppliers, production, logistics, distribution, and customers
  7. Assess individual clean-energy technologies, recycling, and reuse
  8. Develop vertical integration approaches to gain long-term access to scarce resources
  9. Perform carbon-impact studies and identify opportunities for carbon mitigation
  10. Gauge the impact of various packaging, logistics, and location decisions

AaronRichards sustainability projects are innovative and ensure that sustainability objectives are incorporated into an organization's larger decision-making processes.

sustainability & corporate responsibility