The Five Big Sustainability Strategy Mistakes

Oct 14, 2015 | Blogs

A sustainability or corporate responsibility strategy is a framework for guiding action in a business. In the years that Corporate Citizenship has been developing these, we’ve helped companies to navigate a number of potential pitfalls.

As part of the launch of our new research on strategy, we have identified the five big sustainability strategy mistakes – and how to avoid making them.

  1. Failure to prioritise. Strategy requires decisiveness. That means it cannot be a long list of all the activities that a company is doing. A rigorous process of materiality –deciding what issues matter for the business as well as its stakeholders – is an essential step to deciding where to focus.
  2. Forgetting the business. A good strategy should align with and support the commercial direction of an organisation. By starting with the company vision, mission and values, sustainability can help to guide and deliver business aims, benefiting society and the company.
  3. Confusing targets and KPIs. A target is a goal that the business is striving to achieve. A key performance indicator (KPI) is the quantifiable measure used to evaluate performance towards a target. It’s amazing how often some businesses confuse the two.
  4. Lack of business buy-in. Getting colleagues on board, particularly senior ones, is a big challenge for some practitioners. But without executive support, a strategy risks being under-resourced. Our paper contains a series of tips for getting buy-in from colleagues.
  5. Weak implementation. A strategy is only as good as its delivery. Too often, companies think the work ends with the launch of a strategy. Instead, it’s best practice to put in place governance systems, feedback mechanisms, clear accountabilities and engaging guidance for employees prior to the launch of the commitments.


For more information on how any organisation can review, refresh and relaunch its sustainability or corporate responsibility strategy, a copy of our new paper can be downloaded here.