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Improving Sustainability Results With Performance Frameworks

Results do not drive performance.It’s the other way around. Results are merely the outcome of performance. To drive sustainability performance, an organization must focus on the processes that will lead to favorable results (sustainability indicators), now and in the future.

Sustainability professionals have adopted a“results focus” that relies on the Global Report-ing Initiative’s (GRI’s) 79 indicators and the even larger list of environmental, social, andgovernance (ESG) indicators used by analysts of socially responsible investment. We have to wonder whether, in their zeal to perform well against these indicators, organizations are simply pursu-ing “random acts of sustainability,” rather than addressing the needs of the organization itself.

Focusing so much on results(i.e., lagging indi-cators) also means that organizations are paying too little attention to leading indicators, whichcan help the organization respond to changing circumstances.

Performance frameworks are used in dozens of countries around the world. Many are used in connection with national quality award pro-grams. A growing number of organizations have begun to see the value of using performance frameworks as a means to implement and improve sustainability or corporate social responsibility programs and this column examines how performanceframeworks can be used within those programs.

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