A glass office building on the left, against a blue sky with light clouds. The sun reflects brightly off the building.

4 ways that sustainability awards can help your business

“In business, sustainability refers to doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.”
— Harvard Business Review
But how does business get the message out to wider society that sustainability is not purely environmental, but social and economic too? One way that organisations are tackling this is by regularly volunteering to have their sustainability credentials scrutinised by independent bodies who take a deep dive into the way businesses conduct themselves environmentally and ethically, as well as in terms of labour, human rights and sustainable procurement practices. Canon, for example, are one of tens of thousands of global companies who invite analysts from specialists such as EcoVadis and CDP to examine and score the way we do business. Of course, it’s always excellent news to receive a gold rating, as we have for six consecutive years from EcoVadis, but besides the accolade, what do sustainability ratings achieve?
1) Benchmarking
A great advantage to being assessed by an organisation that also assesses many tens of thousands of other businesses lies in the creating a global standard for everyone to aspire to. In the case of EcoVadis, this benchmarking encompasses business practices that reach beyond the basics and investigates the way employees are treated and how procurement is conducted – even looking into the credentials of partners.
2) Exploration
An independent body can objectively report on areas for improvement, which is an excellent way for organisations to fully understand what needs to happen next and then seek ways to make it happen. It also means that over a period of years, achievements can be recognised, and progress can be seen to be made. It might be said that sustainability assessments help to drive companies in the right direction.

Two young people stand next to each other; one has a Canon camera found his neck and they both look at its screen and smile.
The Canon Young People Programme is an example of the powerful social impact that can be had through sustainability initiatives.

3) Commitment
When a business participates in an exercise on this scale – which takes a substantial amount of work both before, during and after – it demonstrates to both employees and customers that sustainability is built into the company culture. Often the undertaking involves many months of information gathering and preparing the necessary documentation to submit to analysts before they then undertake an assessment, which may take a up to a few months.
4) Perception
When many organisations seek the same accreditation, it increases public understanding and gains relevance, particularly when well-known brands, such as our own, participate. Sustainability already plays a significant role in people’s purchasing decision, but it also has a huge influence on the kinds of companies they want to work for and the opinions they hold. In this respect, it’s incredibly important for any business that is seeking great talent to conduct themselves sustainably, as it’s a core factor in remaining competitive.

Awards challenge us to take a rigorous and holistic view of sustainability, helping to set the agenda on best practice and separating greenwash from the innovations that make a genuine difference

Of course, we reference CDP and EcoVadis here, as they are bodies appropriate to the scale and reach of Canon as a global organisation. However, there are many bodies offering awards and accreditations for sustainability and selecting the right one for your business can come very much down to specifics – such as industry or location. Choosing wisely, with the above benefits in mind, can guide you towards the most suitable assessment methodology for your company and, most importantly, one that can support and guide your growth and commitment to a sustainable future.
This year we celebrate a sixth consecutive year as the holder of a gold rating from EcoVadis, placing us within the top 3% of companies globally in terms of environmental practices. Find out more about sustainability at Canon.

Written by Andy Tomkins

Related Articles