Are companies truly sustainable?: The ISEAL principles of credibility

CRS Trends  »  Sustainable reputation   »   Are companies truly sustainable?: The ISEAL principles of credibility

There are many sustainability standards that companies can (and should) follow based upon various indicators and criteria on sustainability and social responsibility that categorizes corporate activities beyond financial elements.

These standards and criteria continue to be more and more specific, and the efforts to translate them into a unique, common international legal framework are beginning to thrive, like for example the European Taxonomy which will enter into force early 2022.

But while we wait for that common framework, there are still many doubts surrounding the credibility of the information that these standards are trying to disclose. It is in this context that the Credibility Principles of ISEAL help us identify essential values that would make sustainability systems credible and effective.


ISEAL: International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling

ISEAL is an international organization working on ambitious, collaborative and transparent sustainability systems. They try to define systems of credible sustainable practices born and based upon global consensus; they provide spaces and forums to push collaboration, share experiences and feed actions in a cooperative way. They also push disclosure and awareness with their expert committee, and promote innovation to strengthen cooperative sustainable systems.

They act on problems such as poverty and inequality, protection of human rights, climate emergency, the credibility of sustainable practices, monitoring the progress of responsible actions or the expansion of the use of sustainable systems.

But the most remarkable part of the company are the Credibility Principles. They are born in the year 2013, although given the drastic economic, social and environmental changes that the last few years have carried us through, the latter principles have been revised and renewed in order to adapt them to the new global environment.


The credibility principles applied to the sustainability strategy:

Such principles are developed with the intention to help companies and organizations, and even governments, adopt sustainability tools and standards that help them understand the main attributes of credibility, as well as the importance to always continue improving them.

We will now list a few of these principles and give a brief explanation about their importance in general terms, as well as explain them in what concerns the sustainability strategy:

  1. Sustainability impact: It is crucial for the credibility of sustainable practices to define and communicate specific objectives and strategies that help achieve such goals. The sustainable strategy should be centered upon the positive impact of these objectives, as well as on mitigating negative impacts inside their activities. The strategy should look for the cause of sustainability problems in order to act from that point on, and reflect the measurable and tangible impact of its practices, always remembering to respect international norms and the needs of each specific sector or territory, achieving a better aligned impact.
  1. Collaboration: It is important to join forces with all kinds of actors that work towards achieving the same sustainability goals, that being governments, companies, civil organizations or other sustainability systems. Inside our world, dominated by globalization and the problems that the latter brings, we should look for global solutions and act upon the principle of collaboration. A credible sustainability strategy looks for alignment with multiple collaborators in diverse environments, establishing associations where needed and sharing experiences to help push innovation and efficiency of impact and sustainability strategies.
  1. Creating value: A credible and efficient sustainability strategy creates value and engages every actor to participate in the sustainability system. It is about developing a viable business that reduces all possible access barriers in an efficient way (like cost reduction or a just use of resources), in a way that helps achieve a strategy that looks for engagement of every actor when implementing sustainability..
  1. Measurable progress: The credibility of a sustainability system is very much aligned to be able to show the changes or progress achieved. It is not only important to define the objectives and strategy, but also find teh necessary tools that will allow us to measure progress in the achivement of said goals. Data is the best ally fo sustainability, both for showing and helping users understand the improvement that they are achieving, and for specifying objetives gradually internally to improve the long term strategy and become increasingly ambitious.
  1. Stakeholder engagement: A strong sustainability system is based upon listening and learning, otherwise known as an inclusive system. All stakeholders interested or affected should be able to participate in decision making and ask for accountability of the organization inquestion. When an organization includes such principle in its system, it achieves a more balanced and diverse management, understanding the context in which it operates and the multiple perspectives that conform it. The idea is to create the necessary opportunities to ensure that participation is real and that it has an impact. One of the best tools for this is transparency.
  1. Transparency: The latter is the best mechanism to gain trust by putting out for the public all information, openly, honestly and make it accessible. This way we let the interested user understand more easily the processes of decision making, the practices and the results and impact of it all. If we have this information, all other stakeholders can evaluate proceses and results and actively participate giving voice to their concerns.
  1. Impartiality: Credibility and impartiality are practically inseparable. An effective sustainability system avoids and eliminates all conflict of interests that can occur among its practices and its governance. Transparency and active involvement of stakeholders help guarantee the integrity and impartiality of the system in question.
  1. Trust: In order to guarantee the effectiveness of the sustainability system we must design the right tools so that we can carry out periodic evaluations that back up our progress and goal achievement. Furthermore, it must guarantee that such evaluations are competent and precise, as well as aligned with the information presented by all stakeholders.
  1. Veracity: The credibility is achieved being able to back up our affirmations. This is, any kind of information or affirmation that is made about the sustainability system should be clear, relevant and verifiable. Only like this can we guarantee that all stakeholders can make informed decisions. The very design of the system in total should reflect the need to ensure information is trustworthy and that can be backed with data and evidence accessible to the public.
  1. Continuous improvement: Measurable information, traceability, evaluation and veracity are not just important factor externally. All of this bases of the sustainability system should reflect a continuous improvement, backed by the periodic revision of objectives and tools put to the disposition of sustainability. The sustainability system should be enriched with the knowledge achieved in such revisions and adapt it when necessary.


The need for universal veracity principles

The current social tensions with governments, companies and institutions are undeniable. Although sustainability and the fight to mitigate the negative effects of the climate emergency are part of most organizations, public and private, social trust and optimism regarding the efforts of the latter is in decline, although the need for change and action does not stop growing.

Such tension comes in great measure from a lack of transparency and credibility of the sustainability actions. The lack of information and the poor accessibility to technical and complex language, as well as the complete lack of tangible veracity, has made society demand for more and better information; there has also been a rise in the need to take active action and be involved in decision making of sustainable objectives.

The ISEAL principles of credibility are an example of the efforts organizations and institutions should foster, not only for a better reputation, but for a better performance in what refers to sustainability.

There is no doubt that sustainability is the only way to follow by any organization. The work needed to be done now are more efficient and transparent strategies that engage as many stakeholders as possible, from society to governments and even employees.

In DoGood we work for transparency thanks to the traceability of our data. We focus our efforts in building a sustainability culture across the entire company, where each employee can be part of the achievement of the strategies’ goals.

Through our SaaS technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.

If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.