All companies are at one of five stages of maturity in their sustainability practices, and they can all be helped to progress towards ‘Champion’ status

Why have companies such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks attracted such opprobrium over their corporate tax strategies?

Do global drinks companies have any responsibilities for the social, economic and environmental (SEE) impacts of the misuse of their products beyond what may be imposed by different national laws?

How do some FMCG and retail companies repeatedly find new business opportunities from voluntarily accepting higher standards of SEE performance while others find it necessary to compromise suppliers’ interests in order to survive?

What makes a handful of businesses share technologies and intellectual property and form collaborations with NGOs (and even competitors) to further sustainable development ?

We assert that the answer to these questions depends on the “corporate responsibility stage of maturity” that a company has reached, the responsibility a business takes for its SEE impacts and the purpose of business. Several writers have set out various descriptions of such stages .

This approach is by no means academic. Responsible 100 is an organisation that helps companies to respond to stakeholder concerns and promotes greater transparency and accountability by evaluating companies actions to be at one of four stages: unacceptable, justifiable, commendable and exemplary. The Dutch financial group Rabobank assesses its customers’ responsible business practices...

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Essay  measuring sustainability  SEE  sustainability agenda  sustainable development 

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