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Essay: Focus on corporate impact and improve business performance

A new report from the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield University explains how to develop an interactive approach to corporate sustainability

It's impacts that count

At the end of April, Unilever published its 2011 Progress Report on its Sustainable Living Plan. Nothing unusual you may say, nowadays, about a company reporting on progress to embed sustainability, but it then went on to convene a 24-hour online dialogue involving more than 70 company managers from around the world, to discuss the Sustainability Plan with more than 1,200 invited guests. In four parallel streams, two-hour blocks were allocated to topics ranging from sustainable sourcing, through sustainable production and distribution, to consumer behaviour change, recycling and waste.

Two things stand out about this event. First, the company tabled its whole “value chain” sustainability agenda – not just the easy bits, but the whole chain from sourcing right through to issues of consumer use and disposal of packaging and waste. Second, the company was comfortable that more than 70 managers could take to a public platform and discuss a...

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