If you are looking for inspiration then look no further than Aron Cramer’s and his co-author Zachary Karabell’s new book Sustainable Excellence — the future of business in a fast-changing world. Aron Cramer has been a leading light within sustainable leadership for many years. He has led one of the world’s most renowned networks, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) since 2004, but the book covers a longer time span than that. The foremost players on the global market are taken up. For anyone looking for a good international overview of the companies involved and their stakeholders, the book offers plenty of insights into CSR.
The Body Shop, Ben&Jerrys and the pioneering work of carpet manufacturer Interface are naturally mentioned in the book, along with newcomers like Google, IBM and GE (I regard the latter as newcomers despite them having existed for quite a few years). Crises and dilemmas are not lacking in the book, but the authors still manage to provide inspiration; innovations, market strategies and leadership are at the centre.
And the timing is right as the mainstream on the market is toward CSR. It is all about business development, not only about an out-of-context environmental issue. In the book, Cramer and Karabell list five basics for achieving Sustainable Excellence:
- Think big – create business strategies to meet today’s global challenges.
- Put the sustainability issue at the forefront when pursuing innovative thinking in the company.
- Develop and determine the incentives that can be used, both internally and externally, in sustainability work.
- Ensure to strive for transparency on the market and collaborate with a variety of networks.
- Make consumers to your partners.
If there is something lacking in the book then I would have to mention developments in the Nordics and parts of Europe. Interesting CSR issues have been pursued in southern and northern Europe since the 1960s, but this does appear to have reached across the Atlantic…
On the whole I would still recommend the book because it inspires the pursuit of the challenges it takes up and thus those you find in your own world.