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The Sustainability Edge: How to Drive Top-Line Growth with Triple-Bottom-Line Thinking

December 30, 2016


Suhas Apte and Jagdish N. Sheth explain why pursuing sustainability is the most effective way to gain a sustainable and consistent competitive advantage in business.

“Suhas Apte and Jagdish N. 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 todays business leaders.” –Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever 

“I am so impressed with this new book The Sustainability Edge. It is written precisely to help businesses know what they can do with their stakeholders to contribute to a healthy planet.” –Philip Kotler, SC Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

In The Sustainability Edge, Experts Apte and Sheth Provide A Proven Roadmap That Businesses and its Stakeholders Can Follow To Create Value—And A Better World.

The magnitude and number of challenges that businesses face today is unprecedented. What must companies do to remain viable for the long run? According to experts Suhas Apte, former Sustainability Officer for the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and Jagdish N. Sheth, Professor of Marketing in the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, the answer is much simpler than many believe. “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,” they explain in their new book, The Sustainability Edge.

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—to achieve long-term prosperity. Each chapter focuses on one of nine key stakeholder groups, providing guidance on how to make sustainability an integral part of a companys culture and its overall corporate strategy. 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 chapter breakdown includes:

Motivating Consumers | Apte and Sheth illustrate why companies must make sustainability relevant to consumers. They show how to design and promote products/services that make consumption meaningful and sustainability an effective tool for business success.

Collaborating with Customers | Broadening the definition of customers to include all business-to-business relationships, the authors examine ways businesses can engage with customers, distributors, and key accounts to increase competitive advantage.

Inspiring Employees | The authors delineate how companies can use sustainability to energize and engage their employees, and in turn, what employees can do to help make companies sustainability leaders.

Nurturing Suppliers | Apte and Sheth discuss ways that companies can extend their sustainability agendas up the supply chain for deeper financial and sustainable impact.

Investing in Communities | The authors focus on developing symbiotic, sustainability-centered relationships with the communities in which companies do business. They include examples of successful programs that address social issues, enhance quality of life, and improve the environment.

Attracting Investors | This chapter answers such questions as: how can companies reduce costs and increase revenue through sustainability efforts, and thus improve shareholders return? How can investors and shareholders ensure that companies manage sustainability-associated risks and focus on long-term growth?

Leveraging Media | Leveraging the current media interest in sustainability is key to a successful strategy. The authors show how the media plays important roles in promoting sustainability, serving as screeners, supporters, practitioners, and educators—and explain how businesses can work with the media to further their goals.

Engaging Governments | This chapter deals with such questions as: how can companies promote public-private partnerships in order to gain a business advantage while addressing societal issues? How can governments develop and implement policies which foster business partnerships?

Partnering with NGOs | Apte and Sheth reveal how companies can influence markets by engaging NGOs and thought leaders in the development of their sustainability programs. And show how NGOs and thought leaders can achieve their own goals through supporting the companys sustainability mission.

With its Stakeholder Sustainability Audit that allows companies to benchmark their activities, The Sustainability Edge is the ultimate guide to implementing an effective long-term strategy. It is essential reading for all business leaders, as well as stakeholders wishing to effectively engage with business in the sustainability realm.


Suhas Apte is President of Apte Consultants and a partner in the Blue Earth Network, helping businesses discover breakthrough opportunities. Apte, who served as Global Sustainability Officer and President of European Family Care business at Kimberly-Clark, has extensive CPG industry experience and sustainability credentials based on a broad career working in Asia-Pacific, developing markets, Europe, and the United States. He has a degree in mechanical engineering as well as an MBA from the University of Pennsylvanias Wharton School of Business.

Jagdish 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 Bachelors of Commerce degree from the University of Madras. 

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