How it stands
- Companies frequently implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs (which include sustainability initiatives) in order to improve their image in the eyes of investors and customers, which in turn boosts profits.
- But it is unclear if CSR programs actually make the world a better place
- Most of the information about a company’s environmental footprint is only available through the company itself, presenting an obstacle to objective evaluation.
- Coca-Cola claims to have reduced the water footprint of their drinks. But their calculations do not include the water used in the supply chain that provides the ingredients and packaging for the final product.
- CSR programs (like Coca-Cola’s) often use offsets which instead of conserving limited resources lead to increased consumption.
- Unilever claims to use a scientific approach to sustainability, trying to reduce their own emissions instead of investing in offsets for carbon neutrality.
- More recently, Unilever announced the addition of carbon footprint labels on all products to increase transparency.
- While the effectiveness of corporate sustainability programs is mixed, the fact that sustainability is on their radar and part of their marketing strategy is a big step forward.
- Don’t take everything you hear at face value. Take a deep dive into a company’s sustainability practices and decide for yourself.
Dig deeper → 5 min