Sustainability in companies: Corporate Social Responsibility

Social responsibility plays a major role in the discussion about sustainability. When companies take on this responsibility and manage their operations accordingly, we speak of corporate social responsibility, i.e. sustainable corporate management.

What is sustainability – a definition?

What is behind the term becomes clear when we look at one of the oldest examples from the forestry of Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645-1714). According to Carlowitz, a forest should only be deforested to the extent that it can regenerate naturally in the foreseeable future. This is an extraordinary idea that is still valid today in forestry.

Development with increasing relevance

In the 20th century, the concept of sustainability takes on a new dimension. It is no longer only used in connection with forestry, but is becoming increasingly important in the context of the increasing international, political and economic problems of the world (arms race, oil crisis, growth criticism), which were formulated in particular in the report “The Limits to Growth” of the Club of Rome of 1972 and the Brundland Report of the United Nations of 1987.

It says: Sustainability is a development that ensures that future generations are not worse off in serving their needs than current ones.

To this day, there are numerous other attempts to define the term sustainability, all of which attempt to unite ecological, economic and social aspects.

Critical awareness

As design students in the 1990s, the above-mentioned debate also challenged us to develop a critical awareness of the conservative structures in society and politics, against the “consumer behavior of the capitalist affluent society and industrial mass production.

Strategies for extending product life, recycling, multiple use, etc. were discussed. With this background it becomes clear that the social responsibility of each individual as well as of companies for our society is important. To this day, this has remained the case.

Social responsibility

But what does that mean? Assuming social responsibility means integrating social concerns into corporate decisions and having an eye for the environment. Social responsibility does not only take place outside the company. This also includes internal measures that focus on sustainable management.

Sustainable management with high priority: Corporate Social Responsibility

The social or society responsibility of companies is referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The term summarizes the idea of responsible corporate management. In keeping with the Brundlandt-Report and the concept of sustainability.

The Corporate Social Responsibility reporting obligation as an EU requirement from 2017 will clearly increase the importance of sustainable management. In the future, this will affect all companies involved in the supply chain of large corporations.

Social change in the society

So social change is in full swing. In business, a new business ethic is developing that takes account of environmental protection, conserves resources, reduces CO2 and assumes corporate social responsibility (CSR). Sustainability thrives on authenticity, which must be part of the corporate strategy.

Ecological optimization possibilities in exhibition stand construction

“Trade fair appearances are perceived as a reflection of the company. They are also an expression of innovation and creativity. This image is made up of various components: the company philosophy, the quality requirements, the value of the products and the willingness to provide services. Against this background, a trade fair stand has various functions: representation, communication and information. All other functions, including eco-efficiency and eco-design, will play a much more important role in the future. In summary, the ecological optimisation possibilities in stand construction can be systematised as follows (based on Fussler et al. 1996):

  • the extension of the service life of a trade fair stand or equipment
  • the extension of the useful life of a trade fair stand (e.g. through longevity, ease of repair and upgradeability)
  • Optimization of the withdrawal period (e.g. through multiple use)
  • improving the adaptability of functions to new requirements (flexibility of functions, also in other usage contexts)

WUM Design and Sustainability

We as WUM Design have committed ourselves to the concept of sustainability and have been awarded the title “Sustainable Company” and officially FAMAB certified since 2012. We try to make our contribution for the preservation of the environment in such a way that we pay attention to reusability and a sustainable use of materials when planning and implementing a trade fair stand. This is not always easy, but in the long term it saves money, labour and energy. The most difficult thing in this context, however, is to sensitize our clients to this issue, despite the explosive nature of the current situation. We are working on it!

Picture: © malp –

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