This supplement describes itself as ‘The quarterly review of sustainability in South African business’. As little as five years ago, the use of the word ‘sustainability’ in the context of business prompted most people in the corporate world to think of environmental responsibility. Climate change loomed large – as it still does – and that presented a good cause for much activity, column inches in corporate reporting, and brand positioning. Talking about corporate environmental responsibility has been a rather convenient option for companies. By and large, environmental degradation hasn’t yet really hit home. In areas where it has, such as acid mine drainage, the damage caused has crept up on society rather insidiously and long after the culprits have fled the scene.
Our feature article examines the business case for greening existing buildings, while we again take up the ongoing story around the value of integrated reporting by asking how well today’s annual reports are answering the expectations of stakeholders, in particular the investor community.We speak to Mike Brown, the chief executive of Nedbank, on the influence that financial services organisations have on society, and we end this review with a brief introduction to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) new G4 guidelines. Why read this review? Because, though the stories reveal the issues at the surface, I hope the insights point towards opportunities for your business that are less obvious now, but may be strategically significant in the future.
Originally published in the Sustainability Review (Issue 13: August 2013)