The history of the modern corporate sustainability movement

Executive summary - Part 1

The expectations and attitudes that prevailed in the business world 15 years ago
were vastly different than those of today. Corporate compliance and philanthropy
were largely seen as two unrelated issues. The implications of an increasingly
globalised world were yet to be fully understood, and business was seen to be
profiting at the expense of communities and the environment. High-profile clashes between companies and civil society erupted around the world.

It was becoming increasingly clear that the single-minded goal of profit at any cost was fracturing societies and destroying the environment. Essentially, business was threatening the very elements that underpinned its own existence.