Today, you’ll be hard pressed to find a major business organization that doesn’t have a CSR framework already in place. Sustainability is now a core part of that strategy, as organizations push to show their investors and consumers that they take the globe seriously. Indeed, many major corporations have entire Websites dedicated to their sustainability efforts, outlining the steps they’re taking to “green” their supply chain and cut down on their ecological footprint.
But something is getting lost in translation. How are companies achieving the goals they’ve set? And are they measuring their progress or just setting timelines?
At Cascades, we’re trying to set a new standard. When it comes to sustainability, we believe that leadership goes beyond goal setting. It’s about transparency and showing our stakeholders not only what we’re doing to achieve greater sustainability but also how we’re doing it. That’s what led us to develop a new type of CSR initiative called the Sustainable Development Plan.
We launched the plan in 2010, after gathering input from company leadership, employees, clients, suppliers, shareholders, civil society and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As a company, we wanted to gauge what resonated most with our audience in terms of sustainability. What followed was a series of in-depth conversations on green initiatives and projects we could implement at Cascades. The completed Sustainable Development Plan is a true reflection of brainstorming and collaboration at its very best.
With their help, we identified 18 key performance indicators (KPIs) to address a range of environmental issues from energy and waste reduction to water conservation. The plan translates back to our supply chain, ensuring that we continue to be sustainable and green from the ground up. Aside from those efforts, several of the KPIs also focus on:
- Fostering awareness around environmental health and well-being
- helping company employees better understand sustainability
- Working with influencers and community members to drive green initiatives forward
For Cascades, this is CSR revitalized—where it becomes more than just about just products and processes—but a way of thinking about the way we do business on a daily basis.
Once the plan was finalized in 2010, we set off to work. Since then, we’ve been in a constant state of evaluation. That’s why we committed to distributing an interim report in 2011 to outline our latest results. This report states our goals; explains the steps we’re taking to achieve our objectives; and provides a percentage value indicating whether we’ve made progress in a specific area or not. Company leadership who oversee the execution of the Sustainable Development Plan also share their thoughts in the interim report on whether or not their projects are successful.
By the time we released our interim report in 2012, we had started work on nine out of the 18 KPIs and saw fast results in our recycling optimization program and in our initiative to encourage suppliers to commit to sustainable development. Several other areas saw notable gains as well. Admittedly though, due to the number of KPIs in this plan, we stretched ourselves too thin. As the next Sustainable Development Plan rolls out this May, we plan to be more focused in our approach, adding greater value with fewer KPIs.
By publishing our interim report and showing our audience where we’ve made progress, Cascades made an effort to make our CSR framework dynamic and interactive. Through this process, we’ve invited people’s feedback and encouraged them to get engaged in the discussion. For us, this is what sustainability is all about.
SIDEBAR: Industry Close-up on Cascades’ CSR Developments
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became a fixture in North American business. However it predominantly exists in the form of rearward-looking reports and case studies as opposed to detailed, measureable goals and forecasts.
Intent on pushing itself and other companies towards enhanced environmental, social and governance (ESG) planning, measurability and accountability, Cascades aggressively developed and published 18 key performance indicators (KPI’s) in conjunction with various non-governmental organizations as a part of a multi-year sustainable development plan spanning from 2010 to 2012. The KPIs fall under three categories: performance, transparency and leadership.
During the mid-plan assessment in the spring of 2012, Cascades shared that it was on track to meeting some of its 18 KPI’s. Here’s a closer look at one example from each category.
- Reduce CO2 emissions (Performance Indicator)
—End of Year 2011 Status: Achieved -6.3 percent
—Set Goal by 2012: To reduce by six percent
- Maintain transparent collaboration with stakeholders (Transparency Indicator)
—End of Year 2011 Status: Achieved 469 consultations
—Set Goal by 2012: To achieve 400 consultations
- Increase employee health, safety and well-being (Leadership Indicator)
—End of Year 2011 Status: Achieved 29.3 percent
—Set Goal by 2012: To achieve 70 percent toward custom-developed index
Full results will be released this summer.
Carl Blanchet is the Corporate Director of Innovation and Sustainable Development for Cascades Tissue Group and has been with the company for the past 17 years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Laval University and an MBA from Sherbrooke University. Blanchet is involved in his community as Chief Executive Officer for the Centre du Quebec United Way organization and as a volunteering member of the Hotel-Dieu d’Arthabaska Foundation.