The 7 Levels of Corporate Sustainability

One approach to creating a sustainable business aligned with core values is to use Richard Barrett's 7 Levels of Consciousness model. This model, based on Brian Hall's research into values (see Values Shift: A Guide to Personal and Organizational Transformation), proposes that there are 7 different perspectives that individuals and organisations need to embrace (lhs of diagram). Corresponding to these are 7 dimensions of sustainability (rhs of diagram):

  1. Financial - ensuring the business is profitable and employee health and safety needs are met
  2. Social - focuses on interpersonal relationships between employees and customers/suppliers. It includes values such as open communication, conflict resolution, customer satisfaction and respect.
  3. Organisational - implementing best business practices and systems that improve work methods and delivery of services/products. Values include prod-uctivity, efficiency, professional growth, and quality.
  4. Transformation - focuses on learning and continuous improvement, and the development of new products/services. Values at this level include accountability, employee participation, innovation, teamwork, and personal development.
  5. Cultural - building internal cohesion and a sense of community spirit inside the organization. It includes values such as trust, integrity, honesty, values awareness, cooperation, excellence and fairness.
  6. Community - deepening and strengthening of relationships and employee fulfilment. Inside the organization, it includes values such as leadership development, mentoring, coaching and employee fulfilment. Externally, it includes values such as customer and supplier collaboration, partnering, strategic alliances, community involvement, environmental awareness and making a difference.
  7. Societal - reflects the highest order of internal and external connectedness. Inside the organization, it includes values such as vision, wisdom, forgiveness and compassion. Externally it includes values such as social justice, human rights, global perspective and future generations.

Creating a sustainable business involves energising all of these levels. Visit for information on using the measurement tools associated with the 7 Levels model.