Creating Transparency Around Corporate Sustainability Tools

By Norma Schönherr, Institute for Managing Sustainability, Vienna University for Economics & Business

Creating Transparency Around Corporate Sustainability Tools

There are hundreds of tools out there that can help companies learn, manage or report about their impacts on sustainable development in general and the Sustainable Development Goals in particular. An international consortium of researchers, NGOs and rating agencies has now collected and categorized 226 tools – all claiming to help measure and manage corporate sustainability. The GLOBAL VALUE tool navigator is the largest to date categorized database of corporate sustainability tools and aims to create more transparency for businesses and stakeholders.

Responsibility for impacts

Many companies have gained experience in sustainability reporting and management over the past decade. Attention now shifts from what companies do toward what they achieve through their core business, community and philanthropic engagement, i.e. the impacts they have on society and the environment.

Responsibility for impacts is now a major component of pertinent reporting standards, including the GRI and Integrated Reporting. In addition, publicly listed companies face new demands for accountability from investors and governments. This is evidenced by mandatory non-financial disclosure requirements from an increasing number of stock markets and the current implementation of the Directive on Disclosure of Non-Financial and Diversity Information in Europe. Responsibility for impact has also become a major tenet in industry-driven and multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the UN Global Compact, or the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The business case for managing corporate sustainability impacts is twofold: On the one hand, consumer demand for responsibly produced products and services is rising. On the other hand, major risks faced by brands relate to impacts arising throughout the value chain. Incidents like the Rana Plaza accident in Bangladesh and fresh concerns about refugees from war-torn countries being used as cheap labor in Turkish factories will keep the public eye firmly trained on corporate sustainability.

Addressing the SDGs through measurement and management

For companies and their stakeholders this poses a range of questions: What does responsibility for impacts mean for my company? How can I understand and manage corporate sustainability in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals? What tools do I have at my disposal to demonstrate my company’s contribution?

GLOBAL VALUE has collated 226 currently existing impact measurement and management tools. Choosing from this plethora of tools among contradicting claims from tool developers, consultancies and in light of internal resource constraints can be a major challenge. In order to enable managers to make informed choices, we have developed an online tool navigator enabling companies to navigate the landscape of currently available tools. The GLOBAL VALUE tool navigator is the largest to date categorized database of corporate sustainability tools and aims to create more transparency for businesses and stakeholders.

It is our pleasure to invite interested stakeholders to try out the GLOBAL VALUE tool navigator at and provide feedback at We rely on expert feedback to ensure that the GLOBAL VALUE tool navigator is as useful as possible for sustainability professionals from business, civil society, policy and research – please let us know what you think!


The research project GLOBAL VALUE ( provides new resources for companies and stakeholders. GLOBAL VALUE is co-funded by the European Union and coordinated by the Institute for Managing Sustainability at WU Vienna. The project is implemented by eleven research institutions, civil society organizations and companies, including some of the leading minds in CSR and development research across Europe, Asia and Africa.

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