Planning Framework

The GEMI approach synthesizes a broad range of generally accepted SD concepts into seven major elements that cover the full range of social, environmental, and economic aspects of SD (Table 4.2). There are significant interrelationships between these elements and they should be addressed in an integrated manner. However, it is important to note that it was not GEMI's intent to prescribe a Code of Conduct, or to suggest that companies should be actively engaged in all of the SD elements.

The approach also defines five stages of evolution in corporate SD practices that companies may take in moving towards their SD goals, from initial preparation to acting as an SD champion within industry (Table 4.3).

TABLE 4.2. Elements of Sustainable Development

Category

Element

Definition

Social 1. Employee well-being

2. Quality of life

3. Business ethics

Economic 4. Shareholder value creation

5. Economic development

Environmental 6. Environmental impact minimization 7. Natural resource protection

Protecting and preserving the fundamental rights of employees, promoting positive employee treatment, and contributing to employee quality of life.

Working with public and private institutions to improve educational, cultural, and socioeconomic well-being in the communities in which the company operates and in society at large.

Supporting the protection of human rights with the company's sphere of influence, and promoting honesty, integrity and fairness in all aspects of doing business.

Creating value for the company's shareholders. Includes securing a competitive return on investment, protecting the company's assets, and enhancing the company's reputation and brand image through integration of sustainable development thinking into business practices.

Building capacity for economic development in the communities, regions, and countries in which the company operates or would like to operate.

Minimizing and striving to eliminate the adverse environmental impacts associated with operations, products, and services.

Promoting the sustainable use of renewable natural resources and conservation and sustainable use of nonrenewable natural resources.

I. Prepare: Minimize SD efforts while assessing the business drivers.

II. Commit: Commit to addressing SD and choose a strategic direction.

III. Implement: Launch programs consistent with the SD strategy.

IV. Integrate: Make SD part of everyday business processes.

V. Champion: Encourage others within the industry to pursue SD.

Although these stages represent increasing sophistication of the business processes and practices in place to address SD, companies need not necessarily strive for the "highest" stage. Rather, companies need to determine which stage will deliver the most business value at a given time.

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