Indicators as a Basis for the Management System

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In order to assess and steer the sustainability strategy, management needs appropriate indicators in all four sustainability dimensions, i.e. environmental and social indicators next to the market and financial indicators.

These indicators cover a company’s own performance, the performance of preceding processes (supply chain) as well as the processes by the clients and end-users. Besides these indicators covering the effects within the sustainability dimensions, indicators covering own processes and the performance of the management system are also necessary (see figure).

 

Figure: Examples of Coporate Sustainability Indicators

 

Those indicators of importance to top management are systematically deduced from the corporate strategy. This can be achieved through e.g. a "Sustainability Balanced Scorecard" (see figure below). For further functional levels, department indicators are defined for the corresponding level.

 

Figure: Example of an Indicator System for Implementing a Sustainable-oriented Strategy.

 

Next to the market and financial data, which is often already available, environmental and social indicators need to be defined in order to achieve a sustainable-oriented strategy.

- Environmental indicators

- Social indicators

The external expectations regarding sustainability-oriented reporting of companies has led to a number of indicator sets being defined. These can provide valuable ideas for a company. The Global Reporting Initiative GRI guidelines (main guidelines and sector supplements) provide a well-recognised and followed set of sustainability-oriented indicators.

 

Management System Indicators

Through management system indicators, the effectiveness and coverage of the management system for all sustainability dimensions can be measured over time. Such indicators can cover e.g. the development of sustainability management, the controlling and audit processes or the internal and external communication. Even though management indicators typically say little about the actual performance of the company, they can be used to assess internal processes.

 

Sector-Specific Sustainability Indicators

Besides individual indicators for companies, E2 has already helped develop sector-specific indicator standards, such as EPI-Finance 2000, SPI-Finance 2002 and the VfU Indicators 2005.

 

E2’s Role during the Development of the Indicators

E2 has supported different companies during the introduction of indicators to formulate goals and to be used during controlling. One of E2’s key services is helping clients define such indicators. Following this, the companies tend to collect the performance data themselves. E2 is often called in again for the assessment of the environmental and social indicators, since we have the most up-to-date information for eco-balancing and for various social indictors. To achieve this, E2 maintains intensive contact with the relevant Swiss and international experts and organisations in the environmental and social fields.