Understanding the levels of progress

The five levels of progress are described below, with a useful downloadable summary table here.

Each level has it own personality, and you will likely recognise your organisation as generally belonging to one of these as soon as you see them.

It is unlikely that many organisations will be achieving Level 5 (pioneer) throughout, though we hope to encourage some to strive for that level. Likewise, very few organisations will be at Level 1 (at risk) for any principle.

  • level1

    Level 1: At risk

    This is the lowest level an organisation can be at in the framework. As the name suggests, an organisation at this level is at risk of breaching legal, regulatory or contractual obligations related to the principle.

  • level2

    Level 2: Beginner

    At this level an organisation is doing all that is required to be legally compliant. It understands that acting in the best interests of the customer, staff, the environment and the wider economy is necessary to stay in business.

  • level3

    Level 3: Performer

    An organisation at this level is beginning to see and act on the competitive opportunities in sustainable development. It remains one of a number of competing priorities but key people throughout the organisation are driving for a more sustainable operating model. Individual areas in the business or particular programmes of work are taking comprehensive action to embed sustainability into their operations and strategy. Other areas of the organisation may be lagging behind.

  • level4

    Level 4: Leader

    Sustainable development is seen as a big opportunity. The organisation is doing everything that it can within the current industry and organisational context to move towards a more sustainable operating model. The entire organisation is centred on this as a core purpose. It is leading initiatives that bring the industry together to achieve change that cannot be delivered at individual organisational level.

  • level5

    Level 5: Pioneer

    A pioneer pushes the traditionally accepted boundaries. It is an organisation that is challenging the way in which the industry operates and going beyond expectations for its role. It invests heavily in innovation, and has fostered a culture where everyone is empowered to contribute to moving towards a more sustainable operating model.

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