Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts from M J Epstein

Title: Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts
Author: M J Epstein
Publisher: GREENLEAF PUBLISHING, SHEFFIELD
ISBN No.: 978-1-906093-05-1
Year of Publication: 2008
Website: http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/makeitwork

BOOK REVIEW – “MAKING SUSTAINABILITY WORK: BEST PRACTICES IN MANAGING AND MEASURING CORPORATE SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS” BY M J EPSTEIN. GREENLEAF PUBLISHING, SHEFFIELD, 2008, HDBK. 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-906093-05-1. £17.50 plus P & P. www.greenleaf-publishing.com/makeitwork

This book is one of the best integrated sustainability, business management and finance texts that I have come across. It manages to address the key issues, almost seamlessly, and presents a powerful message on the role of sustainability in day-to-day business operations and management.

A key “selling point” for me is the introduction of the nine principles of sustainability performance. These principles incorporate not only the corporate responsibility issues but also financial returns, governance and product and service value, which are so important in management integration. This is the “hook” that gets the financial boffins interested.

The book’s sections cover topics such as Board and CEO leadership and strategy for corporate sustainability, costing capital investments and the integration of social risk, and performance evaluation and reward systems, which in other similar texts are not addressed as strongly or in the same relevant and focussed manner.

The book includes case studies and examples which help to explain and associate sustainability actions with successful business and profitability performance. I particularly liked the use of the Shell Brent Spar issue to demonstrate the direct and indirect costs of poorly conceived or researched policies with environmental and sustainability consequences.

Epstein has not been afraid to pepper his book with diagrams and models to illustrate his and others’ ideas and reflect on the successful implementation thereof. His endnotes are valuable, added points and his bibliography reflects an author with a sound grip on his topic and a recognition that it can also provide deeper and more valuable insights.

This book should be required reading for all company directors as a part of their on-going professional development programme. It ties in sustainability with “finance-speak” and corporate governance issues that are becoming such a key part of company directors’ legal obligations. Highly recommended.
AJH

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