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Program Management

An effective sustainability management program begins with setting goals and developing strategy to create financial value while protecting the environment, promoting the company’s values, and enhancing the company’s reputation. Sustainability strategies should extend across all aspects of a retailer’s operations, including merchandising, marketing, human relations, and corporate communications. 

Formalizing governance mechanisms and communicating sustainability goals engages executives and employees to ensure that sustainability remains a priority through all aspects of the business. It also provides the necessary oversight and accountability to ensure that sustainability goals are met, and the relevant risks and opportunities are managed.



The most widely used definition of materiality, from the Global Reporting Initiative, defines material topics as those "that reflect the organization's significant economic, environmental and social impacts, or, substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders." Gap Inc. defines materiality "by the degree to which an issue is significant to society and our interested stakeholders, and the degree to which it is relevant to Gap Inc.'s scope of operations and ethical commitments." For its materiality assessment Best Buy seeks the "intersection of where stakeholders want Best Buy to lead and which issues significantly affect our business."

Materiality & Risk Identification

​A strategic sustainability program, visibly supported by company executives, reaches far beyond the sustainability department. It creates innovation, opens new markets, reduces business risks, and enhances brand reputation—all of which build resiliency—according to RILA’s 2015 retailer survey. But what does sustainability mean for retail?


Establishing performance goals is a key ingredient for a successful retail sustainability program. Sustainability goals signal commitment, provide strategic direction, and stimulate innovation. As with all business functions, well-articulated goals can drive progress, excite internal associates, and engage stakeholders.​


The Lead-Up to Paris.  Five hundred investors and 4,431 companies representing $25 trillion, or one third of global assets under management and $38 trillion in annual revenues, or half of global GDP, urged their governments to strike a climate deal in Paris. The U.S., the EU, and China, collectively representing 54% of global greenhouse gas emissions, came into the negotiations in Paris with public national reduction commitments.


​In a letter to S&P 500 CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink writes "At companies where ESG [environmental, social and governance] issues are handled well, they are often a signal of operational excellence. BlackRock has been undertaking a multi-year effort to integrate ESG considerations into our investment processes, and we expect companies to have strategies to manage these issues. Recent action from the U.S. Department of Labor makes clear that pension fund fiduciaries can include ESG factors in their decision making as well."

Last Update: 2/8/2017 5:11:19 PM