Sustainability, stakeholders and profits
A BT case study

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Page 1: BT´s approach to sustainable development

This is built around four key moral principles.

  • Equity today: the duty to meet the present generation's needs. At the recent United Nations Millennium Summit several targets were agreed, including halving by 2015 the number of people (c1.2 billion) living on less than $1 (60p) a day and achieving primary education for all 113 million children who are currently without access to primary schools.
  • Environmental justice: the obligation to give everyone equal access to a clean environment as well as equal protection from possible environmental harm, irrespective of race, income, class or any other differentiating feature.
  • Justice to future generations: accepting our role as custodians: 'we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children'.
  • Stewardship: taking responsibility for the rest of life on earth. This is a powerful source of moral inspiration to hundreds of millions of people, and a key element in all the world's major religions and faiths. It also makes good sense, because human systems depend on natural systems functioning well.

These four principles encapsulate the moral case that affects everyone, and provide an important agenda for establishing how business can create real wealth that is genuinely enhancing.

BT's emphasis on genuine sustainability differentiates it from those among its contemporaries who continue to 'pick and mix' elements of sustainability according to whether or not they produce short term profit. By contrast, BT has developed a firm commitment to sustainability as an overarching approach to business, and vigorously champions genuine sustainability through research, open discussion and debate.

The overall outcome is that BT's stakeholders are reassured, BT's reputation is enhanced, customers respond favourably, and business continues to grow.

BT | Sustainability, stakeholders and profits