Book Summary

Business leaders need to embrace sustainability in order to ensure the lasting success of their organizations. Co-authors Suhas Apte and Jagdish Sheth bring their expertise from practice and from academic to illustrate how business leaders can embed sustainability in a truly holistic and transformative way. Through an examination of such companies as Walmart, AT&T, IKEA and the Tata Group, Apte and Sheth have developed a proven and actionable framework rooted in the real world success of these companies. The case studies reveal how business leaders proactively engage, energize and promote market sustainability to all of their stakeholders including customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the government. The Sustainability Edge enables companies to critically engage their stakeholders and influence them to accept sustainability as part of their core mission.

ISBN-13: 9781442650688  Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division

Publication date : 12/30/2016

Series : Rotman-UTP Publishing – Business and Sustainability Series

Pages : 224

Product dimensions : 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)


Companies can administer a Sustainability Audit Survey among its stakeholders to evaluate where they stand on their sustainability journey.

Individuals can also independently take the survey as a stakeholder of a company.

The survey is free and provides insight to companies to improve their sustainability profile with stakeholders. Over time, an analysis (normative data) will be made available so companies can understand how they stack up versus relevant competitors.

  • “Suhas Apte and Jag Sheth detail the powerful opportunities to grow your business by putting purpose at the core of your strategy and activating it through deep collaboration across your value chain. A must-read for today’s business leaders.”
    Paul Polman, CEO – Unilever
  • “Sustainability is not just a nice thing to have. It is a necessary goal for all institutions including corporations. I am very pleased that Apte and Sheth have documented how embracing and advocating sustainability is emerging as the next competitive advantage.”
    Ratan Tata, Former Chairman – Tata Sons
  • “The whole idea of addressing ‘stakeholder engagement’ strategically, as a source of competitive advantage, is cogently laid out in ‘The Sustainability Edge’, with compelling insights into the role of consumers, NGOs and suppliers, and some excellent case studies.”
    Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director – Forum for the Future.
  • “Sustainability Edge provides a unique perspective. It documents how embracing and advocating sustainability initiatives to its customers, suppliers, employees, and investors generates both top line growth and bottom-line results.”
    Ram Charan, Bestselling author and advisor to CEOs and Boards.

Advanced Praise From Other Prominent Leaders

“The Sustainability Edge is loaded with real-world examples of sustainability delivering competitive advantage. It shares the responsibilities of individual businesses, employees, suppliers, consumers, government and NGOs in developing lasting environmental and business solutions. Unlike other sustainability books which are preachy and lack substance, The Sustainability Edge gives a roadmap for success.”
Robert Abernathy, CEO – Halyard

“If you are convinced that Sustainability is a top issue for your organization, you will often be perplexed about what you can do about it. The Sustainability Edge is a terrific guide for the such perplexed. The book synthesizes practical responses to the complex and nuanced challenges of Sustainability, to drive fundamental transformation. Read the book even if you are not convinced about the critical importance of Sustainability, you will get convinced.”
Anurag Behar, Chief Sustainability Officer of Wipro
Limited and CEO for Azim Premji Foundation

“The Sustainability Edge is a must-read for today’s business leaders. It shares best practices and practical examples of how leaders could embrace sustainability working with key stakeholders to grow their business.”
Mindy Lubber, President & CEO – CERES

“Businesses have to be financially viable and technologically competitive. That they have to be ecologically sustainable as well, is an idea whose time has come. Jagdish Sheth and Suhas Apte have written a seminal book which makes a persuasive case for viewing ecological sustainability as an integral part of corporate strategy and demonstrate vividly that it makes eminent business sense to do so. They discuss numerous examples of companies that have embraced this new thinking to their advantage and to that of their stakeholders. This is a book that CEOs all over the world will find very useful as they reorient their businesses to be anchored in ecological sustainability.”
Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament and former Cabinet Minister India.

“Apte and Sheth have produced a compelling framework combining big-picture insights with practical how to guidance. A valuable, inspiring read for business students and seasoned executives alike.”
P.J. Simmons, Author and Chair – Corporate Eco Forum

“The new frontier in marketing is certainly sustainability. Sheth and Apte have charted a roadmap to help business leaders gain a competitive edge based on creating sustainable value for all of the firm’s stakeholders – not just its shareholders. The Sustainability Edge encourages business leaders to integrate business and sustainability strategies, creating value and a better world.”
Ralph de la Vega, Vice Chairman of AT&T Inc. and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions and AT&T International

“The expectations of business – from consumers, employees, communities, and other key groups – are growing daily. The Sustainability Edge provides business leaders with a roadmap through this complicated world of stakeholder expectations. The guides on this journey, Apte and Sheth, know what they’re talking about – they’ve worked within, and outside, companies for decades, proving that sustainability is the next frontier of competitive business advantage.”
Andrew Winston, co-author of Green to Gold and author of The Big Pivot

Book Details

Book Content

  • 1. Foreword by Philip Kolter  ix
  • 2. Foreword by Bob Willard   xi
  • 3. Preface   xv
  • 4. Acknowledgment   xvii
  • 5. Introduction   3
  • 6. Motivating Consumers   25
  • 7. Collaborating with Customers   49
  • 8. Inspiring Employees   70
  • 9. Nurturing Suppliers   91
  • 10. Investing in Communities   111
  • 11. Attracting Investors   131
  • 12. Leveraging Media   146
  • 13. Engaging Government   162
  • 14. Partnering with NGOs   178
  • 15. Stakeholder Sustainability Audit (SSA) Tool   203
  • 16. Note 219
  • 17. Index 237

Sustainability Stakeholder Framework

A Proven Roadmap That Business and Its Stakeholders Can Follow To Create Value – And a Better World

The magnitude and number of challenges that businesses face today is unprecedented. To remain viable for the long run, the authors believe that the answer simple, “The next major competency that businesses will need to pursue and fully integrate to gain a sustainable and consistent competitive advantage will be sustainability itself.”

THE SUSTAINABILITY EDGE provides a step-by-step roadmap, showing how best-in- class companies work with multiple stakeholders to embrace a triple-bottom-line mindset (taking social, environmental, and financial concerns into account) in order to achieve long-term prosperity. Each chapter focuses on one of nine key stakeholder groups, providing guidance on how to engage and energize them to make sustainability an integral part of a company’s culture and its overall corporate strategy. The stakeholder groups are organized into three classifications based on the nature of their impact on businesses. The Sustainability Stakeholder Framework outlined in the book depicts these classifications in an easy-to-grasp graphic.

The advice is supported by in-depth research, examples and illuminating case studies from companies such as Clorox, IKEA, Kimberly-Clark, AT&T, Tata & Sons, Patagonia, Unilever, and Walmart.

The Stakeholder Sustainability Audit tool (provided in the book) allows companies to benchmark their activities. As sustainability is a journey, the key to success lies in improving your own scores over time.

About the Authors

suhas Suhas ApteSuhas Apte is a senior executive with rich, diverse experience covering many facets of business management. Suhas has developed a valuable global perspective, extensive CPG industry experience and sustainability credentials based on a broad career path working in Asia-Pacific, developing markets, Europe and the United States. Suhas held several executive positions at the Kimberly-Clark Corporation including Global Sustainability Officer, President of Family Care Europe and Vice President of Baby & Child Care Business for Emerging Markets. He is President of Apte Consultants LLC; a partner in the Blue Earth Network – a team helping businesses discover breakthrough opportunities, and invent transformational solutions; a member of the Forum For the Future North America advisory team – a nonprofit solving complex global sustainability challenges working with stakeholders; and a board advisor to Vertaeon – an operations and sustainability analytics firm and Intelligent Energy Optimizer – a LED lighting company. He is also on the boards of Global Giving – a social NGO providing funding, tools and training to all charities around the globe and EPI Breads – an artisan bakery company. He is a Mechanical Engineer from India, with MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

suhasJagdish N. ShethJagdish N. Sheth is the Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing in the Goizuetta Business School at Emory University. He has served on the faculties of Columbia University, MIT, University of Illinois, and University of Southern California. An expert on consumer demographics, the impact of technology on society, and the globalization of competition, he has been advisor to numerous corporations all over the world. He has published over 300 research papers and more than 30 books, and has a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Bachelor’s of Commerce degree from the University of Madras. As a thought leader, Professor Sheth has made hundreds of presentations to business leaders, academic scholars, and public policy makers from around the world. He is frequently quoted and interviewed by Fortune, Financial Times, The Economic Times, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He is also a regular guest and frequent commenter for major news networks: BBC, CNBC India, and CNN.

Get the Edge



If you are an individual and willing to share your perception of a company as a stakeholder, please click on Sign as an Individual Stakeholder™. You will be directed to fill-out a form and will receive a link to the appropriate survey via email.

– Sign as an Individual Stakeholder.


If you are an administrator for a company and would like to use the tool to evaluate perceptions of your company with various stakeholders, please click on Sign as a Company Administrator™. You will be directed to fill-out a form to register your company and will receive a link to add your stakeholders and to administer the survey via email.

– Sign as a Company Adminstrator.


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