Poundland scored a bit of an own goal yesterday (21st January). They "humorously" put nothing on sale in their shops. It was so well received various news outlets wrote articles condemning it. Its been condemned by Friends of the Earth, and various other NGO's and members of the public.
There are some more challenging questions that this raises. Poundland is actually owned by Steinhoff International Holdings NV
Steinhoff are listed on the Frankfurt and Johannesburg stock exchange. Being listed means that they have to produce various information packs for investors including a Corporate Responsibility report.
Compliance ≠ Sustainability ≠ Compliance
The report (as many do) shows that they are compliant with regulations. I'm sure like all organisations they have their own unique challenges, but the investor information covers off the compliance requirements.
Compliance + Sustainability = Corporate Responsibility
To be truly sustainable as an organisation you need to ensure legal compliance and sustainability are addressed. However achieving this is likely the most difficult journey. Which is why many organisations obsess over compliance, because the "big stick" is easy to deploy, and people can be employed in an isolated silo to deal with it.
However, whilst Investor Relations will frequently mention "efficiency", "cost savings", "profitability"... they don't mention anything about sustainability as a behaviour, integrated into the business.
Sustainable Behaviour = Reduce Cost of Compliance = Investor Value
Compliance spend is often wrapped up with poor sustainability decisions. If we take the example of Poundland above, its fairly apparent that somewhere a commercial team came up with the idea and it ticked the right internal boxes for being produced. However, it demonstrates a substantial lack of understanding of current concerns, and more importantly, its just creating more waste (just consumer waste, not business waste). Good news though Steinhoff have a policy statement.
Steinhoff International Holdings B.V. Corporate Responsibiltiy (Planet)
This has to start with Leadership Awareness and creating a Desire to do things better. The core to creating change within organisations starts with the Leadership. This however has to then be translated action. Ultimately it will result in better performance as you use compliance to make competitive gains, and sustainability to be a better business.
Sustain You offer a Leadership Awareness for Sustainability 1/2 day session. an excellent way to start understanding the wider issues in sustainability.