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Co-operative Group ethical plan

Challenge

Show that large companies can substantially improve their environmental footprint and still achieve strong growth.

Problem

Businesses can struggle to set long-term goals as they find themselves responding to the shorter term demands of shareholders and the need to turn profit. Over time this short-sightedness can lead to collapse of business as markets and competition change.

Solution

Launched in 2011, The Co-operative Group's ethical plan stated their aim to become “‘the most socially responsible business in the UK”’. The long-term plan integrates ethical aims into the company’'s financial operating plan, putting sustainability on the same footing as other business priorities. At the same time, many of its targets and commitments raise the standard for environmental performance in the UK. Targets are assessed on a rolling basis and either realigned according to performance or benchmarked against competitors to maintain a lead.

Benefits

Leadership position as ethical retailer maintained
Protection of systems critical to future growth
Reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 35% between 2006 and 2010, seven years ahead of target

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