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The three pillars of sustainability

Sustainability can have different meanings to different people in the context of corporate social responsibility.
One of the best definitions we’ve seen was outlined at the 2005 World Summit on Social Development, which
presented sustainability as an integration of social, economic, and environmental factors.

The Environmental Protection Agency has echoed a similar sentiment, pointing out that:

“Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural
environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in
productive harmony that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future

At Truist, our focus on sustainability means working with companies to help them develop plans that combine
long-term profitability with maximum social responsibility and environmental care. Following some basic
principles of sustainability can help your business forge a path toward larger corporate social responsibility

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

One way to look at sustainability is by considering the Three Pillars of Sustainability. Under this approach,
companies look for a balanced approach to long-term social, environmental and economic objectives.

Another way to look at this is through the concept of the Triple Bottom Line — People, Planet, and Profit.

PEOPLE: The Social Pillar of Sustainability

The social aspect of sustainability focuses on balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of the group.
Different companies do this in different ways, with some of the most successful corporate sustainability
programs taking an approach that ties in well with their corporate missions:

At Walmart, social initiatives include market-specific skills training programs, sustainable agriculture and food
donations, worker safety initiatives, and women empowerment initiatives.

Nestle has committed to addressing the community impacts arising as a result of their operations including
water scarcity, health and wellness of communities around their factories, and land management that honors
usage rights of local people.

Verizon supports its social and community efforts through volunteer grants, matching gifts, disaster relief and
recovery programs, and cause collection efforts where employees donate time, money, and material goods.
The company is also spearheading the introduction of energy-saving technologies to schools, medical clinics,
and senior living facilities.
PLANET: The Environmental Pillar of Sustainability

Environmental sustainability occurs when processes, systems and activities reduce the environmental impact
of an organizations facilities, products and operations.

Herman Daly, a pioneer in environmental sustainability, proposed that:

For renewable resources, the rate of harvest should not exceed the rate of regeneration

For pollution, the rates of waste generation from projects should not exceed the assimilative capacity of the

For nonrenewable resources, the depletion of the nonrenewable resources should require comparable
development of renewable substitutes for that resource

At Walmart environmental initiatives include increasing imports from green and yellow factories, a goal of zero
waste, plastic bag reduction, and initiatives to reduce carbon footprint by managing energy consumption.

Nestle identified four priority areas to manage their environmental sustainability: water, agricultural raw
materials, manufacturing and distribution, and packaging specific to their food and beverage business.

Verizon’s initiatives towards environment sustainability include a record-breaking year in electronic gear and
telecom equipment recycling, reducing energy use by providing employees with flexibility in where they work,
reductions in carbon intensity, finding more efficient and eco-friendly solutions for its fleet, greener packaging,
using alternative sources of energy for its cell towers, and many other initiatives to reduce the impact on the

PROFIT: The Economic Pillar of Sustainability

Economic sustainability is used to define strategies that promote the utilization of socio-economic
resources to their best advantage. A sustainable economic model proposes an equitable distribution
and efficient allocation of resources. The idea is to promote the use of those resources in an efficient
and responsible way that provides long-term benefits and establishes profitability. A profitable
business is more likely to remain stable and continue to operate from one year to the next.

The nice thing about taking a total approach to sustainability is that if you focus on social and
environmental issues, profitability will often follow. Social initiatives have an impact on consumer
behavior and employee performance, while environmental initiatives such as energy efficiency and
pollution mitigation can have a direct impact on reducing waste.

Economic sustainability involves making sure the business makes a profit, but also that business
operations don’t create social or environmental issues that would harm the long-term success of the

Defining sustainability and corporate social responsibility by using the Three Pillars of Sustainability
can help a company determine its own sustainable and successful road. Following these general
guidelines and learning from the examples of other companies will let you determine the best path
to take for your own company. (
The Economic Pillar

The economic pillar of sustainability is where most businesses feel they are on firm ground. To be
sustainable, a business must be profitable. That said, profit cannot trump the other two pillars. In
fact, profit at any cost is not at all what the economic pillar is about. Activities that fit under the
economic pillar include compliance, proper governance and risk management. While these are
already table stakes for most North American companies, they are not globally.

It is the inclusion of the economic pillar and profit that makes it possible for corporations to come on
board with sustainability strategies. The economic pillar provides a counterweight to extreme
measures that corporations are sometimes pushed to adopt, such as abandoning fossil fuels or
chemical fertilizers instantly rather than phasing in changes.

The Impact of Sustainability

The main question for investors and executives is whether or not sustainability is an advantage for a
company. In practical terms, all the strategies under sustainability have been co-opted from other
business movements like Kaizen, community engagement, the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal),
talent acquisition and so on. Sustainability provides a larger purpose and some new deliverables for
companies to strive for and helps them renew their commitments to basic goals like efficiency,
sustainable growth and shareholder value.

Perhaps more importantly, a sustainability strategy that is publicly shared can deliver hard-to-
quantify benefits such as public goodwill and a better reputation. If it helps a company get credit for
things they are already doing, then why not? For the companies that cannot point to an overall
vision to improve in these three pillars, however, there isn't a real market consequence — yet. The
trend seems to be making sustainability and a public commitment to it basic business practices,
much like compliance is for publicly traded companies. If this comes to pass, then companies lacking
a sustainability plan could see a market penalty, rather than proactive companies seeing a market

Although it very much a buzzword, sustainability is here to stay. For some companies, sustainability
represents an opportunity to organize diverse efforts under one umbrella concept and gain public
credit for it. For other companies, sustainability means answering hard questions about the how and
why of their business practices that could have a serious, if gradual, impact on their operations.

The Bottom Line

Sustainability encompasses the entire supply chain of a business, requiring accountability from the
primary level, through the suppliers, all the way to the retailers. If producing something sustainably
becomes a competitive edge for supplying multinational corporations, this could reconfigure some
of the global supply lines that have developed based solely on low-cost production. Of course, that
scenario depends on how strongly corporations embrace sustainability and whether it is a true
change of direction or just lip service.
Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

(Response to the challenges of the modern world)

Sustainability is a comprehensive approach to management of organizations which is focused on

creating and maximizing long-term economic, social and environmental value. It is a response to the
challenges of the modern world facing organizations from the public and private sectors.

We provide support to private and public companies in their transformation from economically-
oriented entities to organizations that consciously build their value through active management of
the economic, social and environmental impact.

Sustainable development is best described by four key words


Sustainability is responsibility for the impact that the organization exerts on its surroundings, in
business, environmental and social terms. Conscious management of the impact translates into
lower costs, improved external relations and better managed risks.

Sustainability is skilled positioning of the organization in the economic reality, taking account of the
social and economic challenges, environmental opportunities and threats. The awareness that the
organization functions within a broader framework, amid complex interrelations with many
stakeholder groups, allows it to get ready and make use of the opportunities linked with

Sustainability is awareness that each entity is surrounded by stakeholders. Building and cultivating
good relations with stakeholders based on engagement and dialogue is crucial, because it not only
affects the possibilities to manage risks, but also supports development and gives the organization a
competitive edge.

Sustainability is transformation and development of the organization as well as creation of its long-
term value based on innovation as well as intellectual and relation capital.

Benefits for businesses

Business transformation and sustainable approach to management translate into:

 Identification of the areas that create the organization’s long-term value

 Reduction of operating costs due to more effective resource management across the entire
supply chain
 Effective economic, social and environmental risk management
 Business stability relying on good relations with key stakeholders
 Building loyalty and trust of customers through a dialogue and engagement

Sustainability is a response to the challenges of the modern world which transforms potential
threats and risks into development opportunities for organizations from the public and private
Deloitte Sustainability and CSR services

Our team consists of qualified experts specializing in projects focused on transformation of

companies and public institutions for sustainability purposes, including analyses, definition of
strategic directions and reporting. We provide support in the scope of specific sustainability areas:
social and economic impact management, environmental management, social engagement and
stakeholder engagement.

We tailor our solutions to the specifics and scale of the organization, taking into account the risks
and demands associated with its operations, the expectations of all stakeholder groups, as well as
the need to be engaged in an active dialogue.

We provide the following services to our Clients:

o Non-financial and integrated reporting

o Preparation and implementation of sustainability strategies
o Measurement, management & reporting the organization’s impact on the economic, social
and environmental setting
o Energy efficiency strategies
o Dialogue and engagement of stakeholders
o Responsible sale
o Ethics management
o Regulatory impact assessment
o Diversity management

Deloitte globally also maintains active involvement in the public discourse on sustainability issues
through collaboration with leading global institutions that are dedicated to finding and promoting
solutions to sustainability challenges. We are close to where key sustainability decisions are taken:

The Prince's Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S): DTTL's Chairman is on the Advisory Council
and Deloitte has provided secondments.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP): Deloitte is a past global and U.S. sponsor of CDP Water
Disclosure, and DTTL has developed reports to Investor and Supplier questionnaires on CDP Climate

Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR): Deloitte is a strategic sponsor, has committed
financial and in-kind support on a multi-year basis, and has a seat on the Technical Review

Global Reporting Initiative & Global Sustainability Standards Board (GRI & GSSB): Deloitte has
been involved since the GRI’s inception and has been an organizational stakeholder since 2004, and
two Deloitte partners are members of the governance structure.

International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC): DTTL’s Chairman is a Council Member and
Deloitte has provided secondments.

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB): Deloitte has provided funding and a
secondment, participated in industry working groups, and has a seat on the Assurance Task Force.

Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE): Deloitte has a representative on the SSE Corporate
Working Group.
(UNGC) United Nations Global Compact: Deloitte was a founding signatory in 2000 with several
high-impact pro-bono projects and secondments.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): Deloitte was a founding member in
1995, DTTL’s Chairman is a Council Member and Social Cluster Board Member, and Deloitte has
provided secondments and appointed Leadership Program members.

World Economic Forum (WEF): Deloitte is a strategic partner, involved in the WEF Project Advisor
Program, DTTL’s Chairman is a Member of the Chairmen’s Community, Deloitte has representatives
in the Forum of Young Global Leaders.


Economic Sustainability

The objective of any business should be to create wealth and well-being, interacting with the social
and natural environment.

In other words, it cannot be oriented solely towards the pursuit of profit; instead, it has to be
imbued with the values and principles inspired by corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Thanks to continuous investment in technology and improvements in product quality and reliability,
opening new foreign branches and joint ventures with other industry players, IMA is able to serve
end-users increasingly rapidly and efficiently, which gives it a competitive edge.

Corporate Responsibility
(Making an Impact that matters in our community)

What Corporate Responsibility means to Deloitte

For any enlightened business, having a clearly defined approach to the impact of climate change,
involvement with local communities, responsible business practices and the creation of a quality
workplace environment must be a core part of business strategy. At Deloitte we all share a desire to
give something back to society. We are active members of Business in the Community Ireland (BITC),
whose mission is to harness the power of Irish business to maximise its positive impact on all its
stakeholders and society.

Deloitte also partners with a number of community organisations as well as supporting a number of
individuals in their volunteering efforts each year.

Deloitte was presented with the Business Working Responsibly Mark by Minister Richard Bruton T.D.
in October 2013, and in November 2018, were re-accredited for the second time. The mark is a
fitting endorsement of the best practices we have in place in the areas of HR, the environment,
customer relationship management, marketing, corporate social responsibility and indeed how we
do business overall. Furthermore, the award recognises our clear focus on talent, quality and our
responsibility to all of our stakeholders.
Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner – “The Deloitte network takes time to reflect on our purpose
– to make an Impact that matters. This purpose defines who we are. It endures – transcending the
everyday and binding us together. It gives us our reasons to exist as an organisation: serving our
clients, inspiring our people and contributing to society. It is only by all of us behaving responsibly in
everything we do that will earn and retain the respect of the business and the wider community.”

Gerry Fitzpatrick, CR Partner – “Our approach to corporate responsibility is shaped by the

recognition that, because we are a professional services organization, tourimpact on society comes
in large part from the way we serve clients. Accordingly, we seek to achieve excellence and
continuous improvement in three ways: conduct - responsible business practices, people – investing
in the talent and diversity of the future workforce, and communities – commitment to local
communities and shared global challenges.”

The Business Working Responsibly Mark

The Business Working Responsibly Mark - Audited by the National Standards Authority of Ireland
(NSAI) and based on ISO 26000, this all-encompassing standard certifies responsible and sustainable
business practices and is available to organisations worldwide. The Mark assesses best in class in CSR
and looks at leadership, policies, practices, performance, and impact in areas such as ethics,
stakeholder engagement, employee engagement, customer service, innovation, supply chain
management, environmental practices and CSR communications

“Increasingly in tender situations, we get asked around our CSR practices. The mark helps us to tell
that story” – Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner.

WorldClass - 50 million futures prepared for a world of opportunity

Deloitte aspires to reach 50 million futures by 2030, in-line with the United Nations’ Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).

Inspired by the promise of this industrial revolution, it's acceleration of technology and digitization
across all aspects of life present incredible opportunity. We are preparing people, and the
organizations they are part of, to be ready for the prosperity and progress it offers. Our work
developing leading-edge business solutions, bringing fresh perspectives to clients, and training the
next generation of business leaders is an important first step. It is not enough.

Globally, millions have been left behind, unable to fulfil their aspirations and potential. They lack the
education, skills, and training needed. This is causing widening inequality, declining productivity, and
rising social tensions. This is why we have created WorldClass – an ambitious global initiative that
empowers people to be part of this new world economy.

Through this initiative, we are committed to preparing 50 million futures for a world of opportunity.
This bold ambition exemplifies how we live our Purpose, making an impact that matters, by
addressing complex global challenges in society. By aligning around a common goal and mission, we
are inspiring increased commitment and investment in education, skills development, and access to
opportunity. Watch the video below to learn more.
Charities we support - Fundraising

At Deloitte, we run a number of fundraising activities during the year to reflect causes that have
touched many of our people whether directly or indirectly. Just some of the organisations that we
support are Pieta House, The Irish Cancer Society, St. Vincent de Paul, Goal, Nurture Africa, The Irish
Hospice Foundation, and many more.


We partner with a number of organisations through which our people can give their time and skills
back to the local community. With Suas, volunteers work with our partner school in Warrenmount
School, Dublin 8, to read with the same group of students each week, not only does this improve
their literacy but also establishes a strong support relationship for the mentees. Our longstanding
partnership with the Junior Achievement programme encourages children to stay in school and
creates a culture of enterprise within the classroom. Volunteers teach classes from primary through
to secondary school showing them how they can contribute to the world around them as individuals,
workers and consumers. The Early Learning Initiative works to address the problem of educational
underachievement in marginalised communities. We work with ELI in the lower docklands and south
of the River Liffey in each of our programmes offered. We also offer computer literacy programmes
in partnership with Age Action, where our people spend time allowing learners to get comfortable
with their chosen technology, whether it’s a laptop, phone, I-pad, or email. Learners and volunteers
benefit from the experience of meeting with new people.

Overseas Volunteering

Deloitte have partnered with Nurture Africa, an Irish founded, internationally registered non-
Governmental Organisation that works in Uganda. Nurture Africa has a targeted focus upon
Healthcare, Education, Child Protection & Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment through
business training and micro-finance projects.

Their work centres around nurturing the mental, physical and emotional growth and wellbeing of
Ugandan HIV/AIDS infected and affected orphans and vulnerable children, and their HIV+

During Deloitte’s partnership with Nurture Africa, volunteers have travelled to Uganda each year to
offer their skills and time to help local organisations to improve their business acumen, in areas such
as accounting, excel, and power point, as well as practically, by providing labour to help with local
building projects. Volunteers also have the opportunity to meet and spend time with local families
and children who have benefitted from the services and facilities provided by Nurture Africa.


IMPACT Day is our flagship volunteering day that allows our people to give back to the local and
surrounding communities by providing their time, labour and expertise to the selected
organisations. This one day of IMPACT is a fundamental part of Deloitte's CR Strategy and one of the
most popular days of the year for our people to get involved in the CR programme and volunteer.
With 775 people taking part in 2017 you can imagine the impact that can be made. Volunteers can
choose to partake in professional skills projects, giving their skills to work on matters such as
business strategy, websites, or marketing approaches, or traditional volunteering, where volunteers
might carry out a cleanup for an organisation, some painting or gardening.
Intern and Co-op IMPACT Day

So that everybody has the opportunity to get involved, we also hold a separate IMPACT Day in July
for our interns and co-ops, since many of them might otherwise miss the firm wide day. This day
sees over 200 co-ops and interns volunteer on traditional style projects carrying out tasks such as
painting, gardening, and cleanups.

Pro Bono work

At Deloitte we have partnered with Ashoka Ireland who identify high potential social entrepreneurs.
Through Ashoka, Deloitte offer support to such entrepreneurs in finding their feet during the first
few years of business by offering advice in Audit, Tax and Consulting.

Green Agenda

The Green Agenda initiative is a key component of our Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
Our goal is to promote sustainability and reduce the impact of our operations on the environment.
Through our “Think Green” initiatives we are actively engaged in monitoring our impact on the
environment and creating awareness amongst our people. Staff participation is key in ensuring that
our sustainability programme is a success, so, all staff members are encouraged to put forward their
own ideas for a greener office and to ‘Think Green’. Our modern offices employ the most up-to-date
energy and waste management practices. We continue to invest in high end IT, communications and
printing technologies with a view to making savings in power, cooling, travel and consumption. In
2011, Deloitte became one of the first professional services firms to obtain the ISO 14001-2004
certification for our Environmental Management System, and were re accredited in October 2016
with ISO14001.