In the recently released Conference Board Report, CEO Challenge 2015, sustainability was listed among the top five challenges for the first time. Although it was in the top five, there were regional differences, between the U.S. at challenge number 10 and China and India at 3 and 4, respectively.
According to the United Nations, "Sustainability calls for a decent standard of living for everyone today without compromising the needs of future generations." According to the Conference Board, CEO priorities in the sustainability arena include developing socially/environmentally conscious products and having sustainability as part of their business' brand identity.
Baldrige treats sustainability as a holistic concept related to overall societal responsibilities. I encourage all organizations to take this holistic approach. Examples mentioned in the Criteria for Performance Excellence include: reducing your carbon footprint, resource conservation, use of renewable energy sources and recycled water, increased use of audio and video-conferencing to conserve multiple resources, use of enlightened labor practices, strengthening local community services (including education, health care, and emergency preparedness), and improving practices of your trade or business associations.
Societal responsibility is one of the Core Values and Concepts that are embedded in the Criteria and form the basis for them. Societal responsibility starts with an organization's leaders being role models for and stressing the organization's commitment to societal well-being. To be a role model organization, leadership also entails influencing other organizations, private and public, to partner for these purposes. And finally, managing societal responsibilities means your organization uses appropriate measures of success and that your leaders take responsibility for those measures.
How does your organization perform in the big picture of societal responsibilities and sustainability?