Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – UK, USA, South Africa

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 12.05.26As businesses become more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they repeatedly hear the same examples from the same international companies.

In an attempt to share some new examples of good practise, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that are actively involved in sustainability. Below are some examples from the UK, USA, and South Africa.

Professor Michael Sherer, Director, Essex Business School, UK

The Green Light Trust is an environmental Suffolk-based charity, operating principally across eastern England. Green Light enables people, communities, and organisations to develop their relationship with nature to create sustainable lives and a future that protects our planet via consultancy work with individuals, community groups, and businesses. The East of England Cooperative Society is collaborating on a research project with the Essex Sustainability Institute, investigating the links between local food production and wellbeing. QualitySolicitors FJG, a long-established firm of solicitors, is the biggest legal aid provider in the Eastern region. The firm worked closely with Essex Business School to conduct a thorough review of the firm’s family law section and identify more efficient and environmentally friendly practices that could be implemented. It is committed to offering affordable legal services for clients, despite changes to the legal aid system.

Dr. Donna Sockell, Executive Director of CESR, Leeds School of Business, USA

New Belgium Brewing Co., led by CEO and co-founder, Kim Jordan, is staunchly guided by its core values and beliefs. The company’s high involvement ownership culture, keen focus on environmental metrics, and support of the local community provide a compelling example to students of how a for-profit company can sustainably “walk the talk” of caring for people, planet and profits. Davita Inc., the largest independent provider of dialysis services, stands out not only for their impact on patients suffering from chronic kidney failure, but also for their unique management philosophy that empowers every employee. Kent Thiry, Chairman and CEO, has managed to build Davita into a true community that is passionate about social responsibility, leadership development, and excellence. WhiteWave Foods Company helped create some of the biggest consumer trends in food. The company’s core value is that good food should nourish the body and mind while preserving the planet, so WhiteWave sets specific goals to track progress and measure improvement. By using the power of its brands, the passion of its people, and both the small and big scale of its business, WhiteWave demonstrates how a successful for-profit company can create meaningful and lasting change.

Dr. Japie Heydenrych, Milpark Business School, South Africa

MTN’s CSR initiatives focus on six communities in some of South Africa’s most remote rural areas. They have brought about positive change through job creation, better healthcare, improved education, and support for entrepreneurial businesses and ideas in the areas. In education, for example, they help improve the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) connectivity in rural schools, building new science labs and centres, using technology to provide scholars and teachers with tele-teaching aids and skills, and making the infrastructure in schools better. Nedbank’s Green Infinity is an initiative through which the company donates money on behalf of clients who have one of the Green Infinity products. After more than 20 years in existence, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has funded projects in climate change, freshwater conservation, marine conservation, the preservation of outstanding places, the conservation of species of special concern, and conservation leadership.


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