Sustainability Auditing is an examination of all activities carried out in an organization and comparing them with the best practices in the industry. A sustainability auditor looks at organizational policies, practices and procedures carried out in an organization. It determines whether there exists a gap between the organization’s sustainability plan, and the actual work done in the organization (Mager & Sibilia, 2010). It can be described as stock taking of an organizations activities and performance.
Sustainability audit is a managerial tool that enables the management to determine if their organization is sustainable and identify areas of weakness which the organization can improve on to become less prone to environmental changes. Sustainability audit looks at an organization holistically, identifying opportunities and threats facing the organization. The environment a business is a primary factor in determining if the business will survive in the long run or it will be forced out of operation. A sustainability audit, therefore, aims at analyzing the economic, social and environmental sustainability in order to prepare the organization for the complexities and risks involved with change (Sterling, 2014).
Implementation of sustainability audit
The management of an organization sets up a sustainability plan. The program aims at aiding the organization in adapting to the changing environment and operating more efficiently. The existence of a sustainability plan implies that the business has set up a long-term plan towards sustainability (Sterling, 2014). The program is implemented in all areas of the organization, and It is important to review the process of implementation to determine if the organization has achieved its objectives.
The management commissions a sustainability audit, and it is carried out by a sustainability auditor or any other qualified person. The audit is done periodically to keep the organization updated on emerging opportunities and threats (Mager & Sibilia, 2010). An auditor uses a range of methods to carry out a sustainability audit. The methods include a close study of the organization’s policies to ensure that they comply with the set legislation. An auditor can also give questioners to the employees to try and understand their view on the long the long term strategies set by the organization (Mager & Sibilia, 2010). Employees provide the most valuable information since they understand best the implications of policies made by the organization
Importance of a sustainability audit
A sustainability audit gives a complete picture of the organization at an instance. It is important for the existence of the business in different ways. The general benefit of this kind of an audit is that it allows the enterprise to compare itself with the other entities in the industry. The review also assists the entire organization in improving in planning of its activities in a more efficient way.
The physical environment considerably, benefits from a sustainability audit since the business depended on it for survival (Sterling, 2014 p. 2). Some of the benefits are improved environmental care and responsibility. An audit will also lead to the reduction of pollution and adoption of environmental friendly production methods.
The economic benefit associated with a sustainability audit are; identification of opportunities, reduction of cost and the creation of awareness of the risks facing the organization (Sterling, 2014 p. 2). A sustainability audit report helps in improving employee motivation and their productivity through the identification of causes of dissatisfaction among the employees.
A sustainability audit has many benefits to an organization. However, it has some limitation. Like any other audit, sustainability audit is costly to the organization (Roscommoncoco.ie, 2012). Its recommendations often require an upgrade of the existing facility that requires additional resources. The audit also may result in the loss of jobs that are found to be irrelevant in the sustainability strategy (Roscommoncoco.ie, 2012).
Management in any organizations is faced with a major challenge of a dynamic environment. The opportunities and risks associated with the changes are many and should be known to allow the group to develop a strategy on how to adapt to these changes (Font & Cochrane, 2005). It is, therefore, important to carry out sustainability audit help in the development and implementation of such strategies.
- Font, X., & Cochrane, J. (2005). Integrating Sustainability into Business, Volume 1. UNEP/Earthprint.
- Mager, D., & Sibilia, J. (2010). Street smart sustainability. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
- Roscommoncoco.ie, (2012). Why Perform a Sustainability Audit? Retrieved 11 April 2015, from
- Sterling, S. (2014). Sustainability Audit: Background & Instructions (1st ed.). Retrieved from http://cou.on.ca/news/commentary—events/events/2014-learning-outcomes/neill-%283-15-3-45pm;-gerrard-room%29—handout-3-of-3