Show me your sustainability profile and I’ll tell you how successful you will be

29.01.2018 13:28 Uhr PSI
Show me your sustainability profile and I’ll tell you how successful you will be | Show me your sustainability profile and I’ll tell you how successful you will be

Show me your sustainability profile and I’ll tell you how successful you will be

Or at least how well accepted your company is. And this acceptance level, of course, also translates 1:1 into your competitiveness. Strictly financial performance indicators are no longer sufficient for judging companies’ developments today. This has to do with healthy quality management rather than morale. Do you still improvise, or are you already actively shaping your business?

What many still considered a marginal, exotic or transitory phenomenon in 2015 when the PSI Sustainability Awards started, has turned into a distinct image-building tool for the European promotional product industry within as little as three years.

CSR and sustainability have long ceased to be “nice-to-have” decorative attachments or proof of goodwill in a company’s portfolio – CSR and sustainability have long moved up to the top league of cross-company corporate strategies.

CSR and sustainability as key factors

In this respect they rank right alongside such topical key factors as entrepreneurial digital strategies, for example. By now even in the promotional product industry the word has gotten around that such topics are not only the preferred “playground” for major groups of companies but also feature among the “homework” for small and medium-sized companies (so-called SMEs).

One of the indicators of this trend is the significantly greater interest shown in it – reflected in both the popularity of the past PSI Praxis Forum in January 2018 and, above all, in the rising importance attached to the PSI Sustainability Awards over the past three years.  

Two factors have contributed to this, in particular. Firstly, the PSI Sustainability Awards have the merit of having provided a structured platform for the numerous industry activities taking place in this field already back in 2015 when the Awards celebrated their premiere. And secondly, they suddenly made CSR and sustainability “measurable”.

Structure and further develop CSR and sustainability activities

By studying the seven Award categories (the eighth category is the overall winner of the previous seven categories) many companies learnt to structure and further develop their CSR and sustainability initiatives. Furthermore, they were able to gauge their own status and development potential.

In view of the annually growing number and intensity of activities the Awards also serve to boost relevance – both internally within the industry and externally versus the advertising industry.

For another, massively rising external pressure has increased the importance of the Awards: restrictive compliance rules, the EU’s CSR reporting duty in force since 1 January 2017 and the rigorous approach taken towards polluters by the Chinese administration as part of the “Blue Sky” initiative.

Caught in the sustainability trap?

Listed companies (and those employing over 500 staff) within the EU are obliged to not only disclose their economic data transparently but also report about the impact of their economic operations now (“Reporting”).

The CSR Report to be submitted on an annual basis documents active responsibility assumed by companies towards society (“Corporate Social Responsibility”). It records the non-profit activities undertaken in the areas of environmental protection, social responsibility and human rights as well as the fight against corruption.

Precarious for SMEs: the reporting duty of groups of companies subject to this regulation also includes CSR and sustainability reporting of their supply chain. This means that medium-sized companies are also affected by this reporting obligation.

Crash after the next supplier assessment

Those unable to provide information on their CSR profile upon demand will look bad in the next supplier assessment. This domino effect is all too well known from the past: in connection with the ISO Standards 9001 (Quality Management) and 14001 (Environmental Management).

This is why even today many major groups of companies place suppliers that do not have a documented CSR/sustainability profile on a kind of waiting list. And they will stay there until they are in a position to prove the CSR compatibility of their supply chain.

During this period orders are neither placed nor are quotes accepted. Even more drastic than the temporary “elimination” is a final delisting from the supply chain. Both steps can quickly eat away at a firm’s substance.

What is the benefit of participating in the PSI Sustainability Awards 2018?

Participation in the fourth PSI Sustainability Awards 2018 enables both first-time participants and repeaters to properly structure their performance and their own initiatives going beyond the legal minimum.

This again proves useful for drawing up the first CSR Report and its successors. After all, CSR and sustainability feed on continuity. The Sustainability Awards 2018 are a tool in the run-up to a CSR Report that helps to identify the otherwise hard to gauge non-profit activities and risks as fields of activity, to document them in a meaningful way and make them visible.

“comply or explain”

It’s not about perfection – not even in the subsequent CSR Report. This is why the EU directive reads “comply or explain”. Comply with the requirements (and document this) or explain why you are still lagging behind – and how you intend to catch up and in what timeframe.

This is also the motto the DNK - Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitskodex (German Sustainability Code) is committed to – a code even used on an international scale. DNK works like a tool box providing a set of criteria and checklists – their use marks the start of CSR reporting.

As a preliminary exercise, so to speak, we recommend participation in the fourth PSI Sustainability Awards 2018 – be it as an Award newcomer or repeater.

The path to your registration: www.psi-awards.de

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