Environmental and social performance

Journal of Business Ethics 15 (7):773 - 784 (1996)
Abstract
If an organization cares for nature, this paper contends, it will act so as not to harm the ecosystems it affects, or when it cannot so act at the moment it will commit itself to such action over time. For an organization's commitment to ecologically beneficent performance to be credible, one requires an action plan with specified targets determining the best ecologically beneficent pollution abatement and ecosystem improvement approaches in a situation. To this end the 4 Direct Environmental Performance Measures (EPMs) are generally used: L, pollutant loads; C: pollutant concentrations; I, ecosystem impacts; and R, ecosystem restoration. These direct EPMS are preferred to the indirect social performance indices customary in business ethics discourse, such as O: positioning organizations along the social performance spectrum from reactive to proactive; or E: economic indicators; and T: technology development; for environmental performance improvement is what is at issue. This one ground rule of environmental performance ethic; a second is that reducing harmful impacts or restoring an ecosystem are to be preferred over pollutant load/concentration reduction. The scientific, technical form of Direct EPMs is important, for it reinforces economic and technological development and yields performance-related environmental knowledge, in contrast to subjective perception and social debate. It offers management a model of ecologically beneficent performance that is microscopic in detail and regional in scope. It further suggests good environmental management involves linking ecosystem improvement with economic/technological benefits. An important aspect of this model of good environmental performance is to integrate economic, technical and social concerns with environmental ethics. It shows that economics and ecology should be mutually reinforcing, just as sustainable development suggests.
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