CSR: Interview with Schlange & Zamostny

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··CSR: Interview with Schlange & Zamostny

A few words about S&Z Consulting

You may have come across the terms sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) before, but have you heard about sustainability consulting?

The big family of consulting services may lead you think of more traditional areas, such as management consulting, strategic consulting, IT or engineering consulting. However, phenomena like global warming and more and more pressing social issues in the business world have made companies gradually sensitized of their environmental, social and governamental (ESG) responsibilities. This is especially true for multinational corporations that increasingly need to motivate strategic and operational decisions in light of ESG standards to stakeholders and society at large.

Addressing this increasingly felt necessity is the core mission of our partners, Schlange & Zamostny (S&Z) & Co. GmbH.

The mission of S&Z in a nutshell:

“We believe sustainability is a process of continuous improvement. It requires a holistic approach based on a proven business case.”

Generating Impact at S&Z

S&Z is an international management consultancy situated in Hamburg and New York and specializing in CSR and sustainability related topics.

They support companies with a variety of sustainability consulting services including strategy development and organization, implementation, responsible sourcing and supply chain management, defining performance indicators, stakeholder communication, as well as selecting, implementing, and operating CR software, and trainings. Their multidisciplinary team consisting of 20 CSR experts have a strong experience of more than 25 years in the industry. The positive impact has been delivered already in more than 500 successful consulting projects in more than 15 countries.

We were extremely curious to ask our partner S&C more about what CSR and sustainability mean to their consulting company and how those issues are present in their everyday consulting business.

What does CSR mean to your consulting organization?

The concept of CSR originally covered in particular the social commitment of companies. With growing awareness and increasing demands on companies e.g. with regard to reporting obligation (see CSR-RUG), the concept of CSR gains in importance and increasingly includes further aspects of Corporate Responsibility (CR). 

By CSR, S&Z means a company’s responsibility for the impacts of its business operations on employees, the environment, the economy, and broader society – either through its own operations or along the entire supply chain and/or value chain. This includes compliance and accountability, responsibility in the core business and philanthropic and charitable engagement by the company.

Do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the UN play role in your daily business. If yes, how?

Even though the SDGs primarily address governments, companies are encouraged to contribute to the achievement of the goals. In this context, the SDGs are increasingly integrated into strategy development and reporting. Furthermore, S&Z conducted the Global Survey in 2019 with the objective to gather opinions and expectations on sustainability and the SDGs amongst individuals and representatives of companies, politics, academia and civil society in all countries of the world. Over 250 organizations have assisted distributing the Global Survey. In total approximately 27,000 people from 174 countries answered the Global Survey.

Some may argue that an organization can be sustainable and socially responsible only at the cost of compensating profits. How do you make sure that an organization can be socially responsible, and yet, profitable at the same time?

In our opinion, CSR and sustainability are absolutely necessary in order to ensure the long-term success of a company. We believe its “good management practice” rather than an add-on. Stakeholders increasingly demand a systematic management of sustainability topics. Sustainability performance of businesses is increasingly being evaluated by the capital market. ESG ratings have an impact on financing options. A poor handling of these topics can therefore have an impact on profitability and can jeopardize the license to operate. 

Aside from financial terms, what are some different ways to measure whether a project has been socially, environmentally or sustainably successful?

After companies have initiated measures in recent years to anchor CSR and sustainability in processes and value chains impact measurement is becoming increasingly relevant. A prerequisite for impact and progress assessments is a robust indicator system and responsibilities for regular data collection and evaluation. 

There are several tools and approaches for impact assessment developed by business and science covering a wide range of impacts. The IOOI model is a concept for measuring social and environmental impact. This model splits effect correlations into input, output, outcome and impacts and thus enables a differentiated consideration of impacts.

Based on your extensive experience in the industry: what are some typical CSR issues that organizations often need your help with?

There are various challenges with which companies contact us. Recurring tasks are materiality assessments to prioritize CSR and sustainability topics, strategic target setting and KPI development, and the preparation of credible CR/CSR/Sustainability reports. Many requests relate to supply chain challenges as stakeholders expect companies to create transparency with regard to risks and chances and to ensure compliance with environmental, social, and anti-corruption standards in upstream processes. As mentioned above impact and/or progress measurements are becoming more and more relevant. This is also reflected in the inquiries of our customers. The focus of the inquiries is not on financial aspects but on social and environmental impacts.

We are incredibly grateful to S&Z for the support in navigating sustainability consulting and the relevance of CSR in the current business world.