Organising for Sustainability is based on an online survey of ENDS Report readers, Business in the Community members and clients of Acona carried out in June 2012. Respondents came from a range of sectors including manufacturing, construction, chemicals, aerospace, retail, media, telecommunications and business support services. ENDS conducted 15 in-depth interviews with sustainability managers in responding companies.

A key research finding is that, in many companies, core business departments including finance, R&D, business management and sales and marketing are failing to fully support sustainability departments. ENDS believes this is holding back corporate sustainability efforts in general and the integration of sustainability into core business strategy in particular.

The survey reveals limited integration of, and support for, sustainability outside of sustainability departments in one third of companies. While facilities, supply chain management, HR and communications departments work closely with sustainability departments, other functions were much less involved. This group includes R&D, but innovation is vital if companies are to manage the risks and take advantage of the opportunities posed by resource scarcity and climate change.


  • Structured for results

    Sustainability is coming of age, writes Dr Tom Woollard, partner at consultancy ERM. How it fits into the corporate structure is a key decision

  • Corporate sustainability in focus

    An ENDS survey and a series of interviews have provided an insight into how companies are incorporating sustainability into their business

  • Terminology: what’s in a name?

    Does a company’s choice of label for its sustainability department hint at its objectives? ENDS’ survey finds some interesting trends

  • Resources: one size doesn’t fit all

    Heavily regulated companies and those needing to live up to high-profile commitments tend to have the largest sustainability departments

  • Structure: finding a place

    As a stand-alone department, embedded in a larger one or infused into the business, sustainability has been organised in various ways

  • Responsibility: buck stops where?

    In the majority of companies the sustainability strategy and targets are set at executive or senior level, ENDS’ study finds

  • Integration and support

    Many companies report organisational-wide support for sustainability objectives, although a large minority say cooperation is still lacking

  • Archetypes: common themes

    The ENDS survey and interviews identified a number of characteristics common to two main types of sustainability models used by companies

  • Organising for Sustainability: key findings


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