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Profits with Purpose: SustainAbility

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2007 Winner

Profits with Purpose: SustainAbility

John Elkington, chief entrepreneur
London and Washington, D.C.

Long before SustainAbility, the Brundtland Commission, corporate responsibility departments and sustainability reports, there was the wisdom of the Iroquois: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."

Since John Elkington co-founded SustainAbility in 1987, future generations' needs have been central to our work with clients, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and other stakeholders. As the first for-profit company dedicated to sustainable development, SustainAbility has always been values driven, striving to better the world in everything we do. Today, as an integrated strategic business consultancy and research center, we provide counsel to leading global corporations and publicly disseminate cutting-edge research and analysis.

SustainAbility helps clients worldwide manage the risks and opportunities associated with corporate responsibility and sustainable development. We pursue 'Tomorrow's Value' -- devising solutions to social and environmental challenges that deliver long-term value to business and society.

To support an advocacy agenda committed to changing the world one business at a time, SustainAbility provides integrated services that help corporations evolve business models suited to tomorrow's challenges. Key offerings include: sustainability strategy development and implementation; materiality analysis; stakeholder engagement; executive challenge and education; relationship-building between investors, companies and other stakeholders committed to sustainability; advice on transparency, reporting and assurance; and help understanding, appreciating and justly serving emerging markets.

We have been privileged over 20 years to serve change agents inside companies as diverse as: Aracruz, Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse, Dow, Dupont, Ford, Gap, GSK, HP, MasterCard, Nestlé, Nike, Novo Nordisk, PG&E, Shell, Starbucks and Volvo. We have tussled with clients -- and even fired a few -- as we intentionally have sought to provoke senior leadership to make their organizations stronger and better. Guided by our core values and rules of engagement, we are obliged to drive positive change in every relationship.

As a think-tank, SustainAbility looks over the horizon at emerging trends, opportunities and risks. We are a trusted bridge between the private sector and civil society, facilitating the flow of ideas and partnerships as well as brokering sensitive stakeholder dialogues. Our intellectual frameworks and worldview help organizations like the International Finance Corporation and the World Economic Forum think around corners and connect sustainability to their core missions. We have diverse partners, from the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme to Standard & Poor's, and from The World Wildlife Fund to Circle of Blue.

We collaborate with like-minded people and organizations to drive change and to focus attention on pressing issues not yet well understood. Recent work on globalization, lobbying, campaign contributions and the ways corporations deal with taxation typify efforts to bring new focus to the corporate responsibility agenda. A new book, The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan (Harvard Business School Press, February 2008), draws the attention of business leaders to the untapped potential of collaborations with social entrepreneurs.

As the role of emerging economies expands, SustainAbility is investigating corporate responsibility trends inside emerging giants like Brazil, China and India, and devising tools to accelerate sustainable development in these regions, where social equity and environmental issues are often most acute.

Whether in Switzerland or South Africa, SustainAbility drives change and generates enduring shareholder value by focusing on corporate accountability and transparency. In the decade since we coined the phrase, 'triple bottom line' has become synonymous with responsible and far-sighted corporate leadership.

At SustainAbility we embrace challenge and change, welcome diversity, believe in equity and strive for impact.

Sustainability is no longer an idea or an option, but a necessity. Join us. Tell us how we can help you change the world.