Sustainability from a strategic business perspective is the potential for the long-term well-being of the natural environment, including all biological entities, as well as the mutu- ally beneficial interactions among nature and individuals, organizations, and business strategies. Sustainability includes the assessment and improvement of business strategies, economic sectors, work practices, technologies, and lifestyles while maintaining the natu- ral environment. Sustainability falls into the social responsibility domain of maximizing positive and minimizing negative impacts on stakeholders.

The protection of air, water, land, biodiversity, and renewable natural resources emerged as a major issue in the twentieth century in the face of increasing evidence that mankind was putting pressure on the long-term sustainability of these resources. Global sustainability topics include atmospheric issues, including air pollution, acid rain, and global warming; water issues, including water pollution and water depletion; and land issues, including land pollution, waste management, deforestation, urban sprawl, bio- diversity, and genetically modified organisms. By being proactive in addressing these issues, companies can reduce their environmental impact and generate a reputation as an eco-responsible company.

The most influential regulatory agency that deals with environmental issues and enforces environmental legislation in the United States is the Environmental Protection

TABLE 12–5 Strategic Sustainability Audit

Yes No Checklist

O O Does the organization show a high commitment to a strategic environmental policy?

O O Do employees know the environmental compliance policies of the organization?

O O Do suppliers and customers recognize the organization’s stand on environmental issues?

O O Are managers familiar with the environmental strategies of other organizations in the industry?

O O Has the organization compared its environmental initiatives with those of other firms?

O O Is the company aware of the best practices in environmental management regardless of industry?

O O Has the organization developed measurable performance standards for environmental compliance?

O O Does the firm reconcile the need for consistent responsible values with the needs of various stakeholders?

O O Do the organization’s philanthropic efforts consider environmental issues?

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