Venn diagram of sustainable development
More specifically, sustainable development could be defined in different terms of different dimensions/categories, such as a Venn diagram, a diagram with three circles that overlap each other in the middle. Each circle presents a different dimension, for example, economics, ecological and social sustainability. For sustainable development, all three dimensions have the same weight and value. The diagram explaining how all these dimensions are connected is not always easy, but a common way is using a Venn diagram (Brusseau 2019). The ecology dimension is related to the use of energy, and materials must be limited. Strive for resource-efficient products and processes that must be taken into consideration in this dimension. The second dimension in the Venn diagram is economic sustainability. There are different strategies in order to achieve sustainable economic development. It is about being able to meet demand with a suitable supply. It is also about using local products and services to protect the local economy. The last dimension is social sustainability which focuses on people and their rights and values such as democracy, justice, human rights, and lifestyles.
Public health, culture, security, medicine, quality of life, and gender equality are some topics that are discussed in this dimension (Brusseau 2019).
Triple bottom line
There has been an opinion for some time that a company’s responsibility extends beyond just being run with profit, and in the late 90’s the concept of « Triple Bottom Line, » TBL (Elington 1997), was launched to measure an organization’s achievements (Hubbard, 2009, p. 179) in the field of sustainability.
Triple Bottom Line is a generally accepted model, which illustrates sustainability. With the help of Triple Bottom Line, sustainability can be described where the three dimensions overlap. However, according to (Correia 2019) one of the limitations of this approach is that it does not show levels of hierarchy between the three dimensions.
Economic, social, and environmental interests need to be in balance. Companies strive to report their “triple bottom line,” where financial and non-financial key figures are reported side by side (KPMG 2021). According to John Elkington’s triple bottom line 1997, three aspects were considered: human, planet, and business (Kenton and Johnson 2021).
Companies accomplish their sustainability goals through TBL, and they are increasingly beginning to integrate sustainability into their products and their image and identity. Consumers are met with slogans such as « from farm to fork, » which in practice gives the consumer associations that the company has good control of TBL with its suppliers (Lennbom 2018). In the meantime, organizations have been facing challenges regarding the implementation of TBL. According to Elkington, a key challenge of the TBL is to calculate an organization’s social and environmental dimensions. Meanwhile, economy or profitability is constitutionally quantitative. Therefore, it is not complicated to measure (Johnson and Kenton 2021).
This dimension refers to social, fair, and advantageous business methods, a safe work environment, and stakeholders (Kenton and Johnson 2021). The design process considers needs, main activities, environments, consumers, partners, and stakeholders. Even though extreme poverty has decreased in the world over the last 20 years, there are still many millions of people living in great poverty and hunger. Wars and conflicts ruthlessly affect people in vulnerable areas. The lack of democratic rights, equality between men and women, and the oppression of minority populations are constant dilemmas in many countries and territories (Colbert and Kurusz 2007).
This part is about how to design environmentally friendly solutions. The business should strive to the greatest extent for the natural order or minimal damage and minimize environmental impact (Colbert and Kurusz 2007). The environmental perspective supports the design of an environmentally friendly solution that integrates a life cycle, aiming to minimize the company’s environmental impact. Ecological sustainability is based on the premise that humans must fight to create a long-term non-toxic environment in which our future generations can live. There must be clean air, and the water must be drinkable. There must also be biological diversity where plants and animals do not become extinct (Colbert and Kurusz 2007).
Businesses should never be allowed to make a profit at the expense of harming natural or social capital. The economic dimension in sustainable development creates benefits for the economy, society, and the environment (Kenton and Johnson 2021). The economy or business model takes into account societal, economic, and environmental benefits. The second position emphasizes that it is important that people are lifted out of extreme poverty and that economic sustainability is equated with economic growth. Human needs thus take precedence over the negative environmental impact that growth creates. According to this approach, economic sustainability is not in line with the objective of ecological sustainability (Kenton and Johnson 2021).
There has been confusion regarding this dimension; often, this dimension has been interpreted traditionally. This traditional interpretation is wrong, meaning this dimension is not only about what a company makes. This economic dimension not only focuses on the financial aspect, though the economic impact is a much bigger idea than just financial impact (Kraaijenbrink 2019). Thus, the repercussions of ignoring the triple bottom line framework can lead to the destruction of the rainforest, exploitation of labor, and damage to the ozone layer (Johnson and Kenton 2021).
The sustainability accounting work is devoted to continuously improving sustainability reporting that concerns the organization’s interaction with society, nature, and the environment (Tomasetti, Mussari, Maione and Sorrentino 2020). Sustainability goals are to work with environmental issues, social conditions, staff, respect for human rights, and fight against corruption. Organizations have accountability towards everyone who influences or is influenced by the organization’s activities, regardless of their importance for the organization’s activities. Within this perspective also future generations are seen as stakeholders (Rasche and Esser 2006).
Sustainability reports can, for example, be based on national or international guidelines such as the UN Global Compact or the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Rasche 2021). The sustainability report shall, among other things, contain information on the company’s impact on the environment, the social conditions, and treatment of staff but also about how they work to have respect for human rights, to fight against corruption, and to have diversity on the company’s board (European Commission 2019). The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) was started in the late 1990s by some companies and organizations that were members of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES). The obligation to prepare a sustainability report in Sweden was applied in January 2017. Companies that meet two or all three criteria must prepare a sustainability report during the last two financial years. Firstly, the average number of employees is more than 250 people, and second, the reported total assets are more than SEK 175 million. Lastly, the reported net sales are more than SEK 350 million (PWC 2016).
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has a sum of developed guidelines for reporting an organization’s sustainability work in a comparable and structured way. In Sweden, governmental organizations, private companies, and non-profit organizations of a certain size report their sustainability work according to GRI (Global reporting 2021). Through sustainability, reports organizations communicate how their business or activities affect society’s financial, social and environmental aspects. In this study, data has been divided into three dimensions according to TBL. These dimensions are social sustainability GRI 405, economic responsibility, and environmental sustainability GRI 305. The sustainability index is used as a tool to guide and measure an organization’s economic, social and environmental responsibility (Global reporting 2021). Organizations that take many of the sustainability indexes will develop their organizations and make them look legitimate.
The word « stakeholder » emerged in an internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International, Inc.) in 1963. The term was implied to challenge the notion that shareholders are the exclusive group to whom management demands to be susceptible (Parmer, Freeman, Harrison and Purnell 2010). According to Gray, Owen, and Adams, legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory are obtained from a broader theory called a political economy theory. According to Freeman, a company has a line of various stakeholders whose needs must be met. A company must take care of all stakeholders, not just work to maximize shareholders’ value. Freeman and other scholars build the vocabulary to inscribe the three problems relevant to the business. In addition to their relevance, they are also interconnected with each other. For instance, the problem of value creation and trade, the problem of ethics and capitalism, and managerial mindset (Parmer, Freeman, Harrison and Purnell 2010).
Stakeholder theory acts as a safeguard of the company’s stakeholders who can assist or hinder the company’s operations from achieving the set goals. Organizations have a variety of stakeholders with varying needs. According to Freeman (1984), the company needs to be able to define the stakeholders’ needs to satisfy them. In sustainable development, future generations are perceived as organizations’ stakeholders. This confirms that organizations are accountable for their impact on leaving behind (Deegan and Unerman 2011).
Practicing stakeholder’s theory in nonprofit organizations is predominant because stakeholder’s theory is a theory of organizational management and ethics (Phillips, Freeman and Wicks 2003), along with the fact that a non-profit organization’s core value is ethics (Eisenstein 2020). Freeman (1984) identifies shareholders, customers, competitors, employees, suppliers, special interest groups, environmentalists, media, consumer advocates, governments, and the local community as the companies’ stakeholders. In the opinion of Donaldson and Preston (1995), stakeholder theory consists of three approaches as descriptive, instrumental, and normative. The authors define a descriptive approach of the stakeholder theory as a description of a company’s competing and cooperating stakeholders. On the other hand, the focal point of an instrumental approach is on the relation of the stakeholder view of the company with its performance.
In addition, a normative approach based on an ethical view suggests that companies have an obligation for their stakeholders apart from the result of these actions to increase the wealth of shareholders. In the last decades, stakeholder theory has become an important part of business ethics and management theory (Orts and Strudler 2002). According to the ethical perspective of stakeholder theory, all stakeholders are treated fairly, and reporting is seen as a responsibility and as a moral duty rather than something driven by demand. Second, a positive management perspective believes that the organization acts based on the stakeholders who have the most influence on them and produces reports to manage these stakeholders and obtain their support (Deegan and Unerman 2011).
Donaldson and Preston (1995) suggest that the normative approach is the fundamental basis and utilized to justify stakeholder theory. Whereas non-profit organizations’ existence is based on ethics, organizations need to include ethical values in their decisions. Analyzing the study based on the ethical perspective of stakeholder theory will help the study see whether all the stakeholders are treated equally. All stakeholders should be equally treated (Gioia, 1999); from a sustainability mindset, organizations should be obligated to fulfill their social, economic, and environmental responsibility. In other words, whether it’s the stockholder, the society, or the environment, the organizations should consider them all fairly equally. Non-profit organizations’ reporting processes are particularly affected by stakeholder engagement as their primary purpose is to live up to the stakeholders’ existing legitimate expectations of them while balancing their own interests (Manetti 2014).
WWF (The world’s nature conservation organization)
In Sweden, the WWF Foundation was founded in 1971 with the aim of contributing to the financing of international activities and of allocating funds for Swedish research, education and practical nature conservation activities. Today, the Swedish WWF office conducts operations largely under its own auspices and within the framework of four departments: Forest & Species, Food, Climate & Energy, Social & Business Development, Sea & Water. The main task is to protect biological diversity and facilitate that natural resources are used in a sustainable way, both in Sweden and globally. Agenda 2030, its 17 goals and 169 sub-goals were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. WWF works primarily with its own 6 goal areas and sees the delivery towards these as a valuable contribution to goals and subgoals for Agenda 2030. The following illustrates how WWF’s goals link to the Global Goals for Agenda 2030 (Världs Naturvårdsorganisation 2021).
In 2018, a stakeholder analysis was conducted in which WWF identified key stakeholders and their primary issues. Through ongoing and open dialogues with their stakeholders, there is a continuous exchange of information and identification of WWF’s most important sustainability issues. In this way, the organization ensures that WWF’s priorities and working methods are relevant to society. Stakeholders that are most important to WWF are supporters, partners / financiers, decision-makers, employees, the WWF network, local & civil society and the business community. Communication between organiation’s supporters takes place through Social media, supporter magazine (WWF magazine), member service (email and phone), newsletter. The most important aspects from the organization’s supporters point of view are sustainable nature conservation and climate lifestyles. In addition it is also important for the organization’s supporters that WWF have a sustainable management of the money they receive and that the financial resources are used in the right way. Communication between organization’s partners takes place through meetings, emails, telephone, dialogue, partnership groups, reports, steering groups. The same as organization’s supporters, for organization’s partners it is also important to know that the money goes to the right place and contributes to effective goal fulfillment. For the WWF network it’s important that the organization follow its commitments and guidelines.
Table of contents :
1.2. Problem Discussion
1.3. Research Purpose
1.4. Research questions
2.1. Sustainable Development
2.2. Venn diagram of sustainable development
2.3. Triple bottom line
2.4. Sustainability Accounting
2.5. Stakeholders Theory
3. Empirical Research Area
3.1. Non- Profit organization
3.1.1. Red Cross Sweden
3.1.2. Save the Children Sweden
3.2. Research Overview
3.3. Summary of empirical research area
4.1. Qualitative Method
4.2. Choice of Approach
4.3. Selection of Study Object
4.4. Analysis method
4.5. Validity and reliability of the study
4.6. Ethical consideration
5.1. Red Cross sweden
5.1.1. Sustainability report from year 2017
5.1.2. Sustainable report from year 2018
5.1.3. Sustainable report from year 2019
5.2. Save the Children Sweden
5.2.1. Sustainability report from year 2017
5.2.2. Sustainability report form year 2018
5.2.2. Sustainability report form year 2019
5.3. WWF (The world’s nature conservation organization)
5.3.1. Sustainability report from year 2018
5.3.3. Sustainability report from year 2019
5.4 Empirical summary
5.4.1. Summary year 2017
5.4.2. Summary year 2018
5.4.3. Summary year 2019
6.1. Development analysis over time
6.1.1. Red Cross Sweden
6.1.2. Save the Children Sweden
6.2. Development comparison between Organizations
6.3. Accessibility of information for stakeholders
8.2. Suggestions for future research