Substantive Corporate Sustainability versus Symbolic Corporate Sustainability

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Substantive Corporate Sustainability versus Symbolic Corporate Sustainability
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
Due to increased awareness that people nowadays have about environmental issues, many companies have started sustainability programs.
- Truly realizing such sustainability campaigns is called taking “substantive sustainability action”. Managers are for example taught to use the code of ethics in daily business/ using renewable energy/ using solar power/ pursue other sustainability goals.
- However, it seems to be true that a large share of these companies mostly talk about such sustainability programs while at the same time not realizing these programs. Indeed most companies nowadays follow a “symbolic sustainability action” strategy, which means that companies publicly report that they intent to do something while not taking action. In this way, the external audience will believe that those companies are taking action. A sense and perception of action is thus generated, although the company does not actually modify its activities and businesses.

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