EFQM Framework for Sustainability

How does Sustainability map across the EFQM Excellence Model?


When the EFQM Excellence Model was first issued in 1992, it was the inclusion of a criterion called “Impact on Society” that caused the most discussion. What did this mean… and why was it so important? Since then, the knowledge and understanding of topics like 'Corporate Social Responsibility' and 'Sustainability' have progressed significantly. Most organisations have some sort of sustainability activities and there are many tools, initiatives and reporting frameworks to help organisations develop strategies and policies in this area. But still people struggle to integrate these activities into “the way they work”. And after more than 20 years, this is still the area where the vast majority of organisations we assess have most opportunities for improvement.

Back in 2004, EFQM produced the “Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility” to provide organisations with a framework to help assess and improve the approaches they had adopted to managing their Corporate Social Responsibilities. This framework drew together the expertise from a number of leading companies, as well as including the then recently formed United Nations Global Compact.

This new EFQM Framework for Sustainability has again drawn on the expertise of a group of leading companies and the UN Global Compact. It also incorporates the numerous changes that have been made to the EFQM Excellence Model in the intervening years.

The structure of this framework follows that of the EFQM Excellence Model 2013. Some of the detail within is taken directly from the Model to ensure consistency. However, many new examples of what we’d expect to observe in an “excellent organisation” have been added. These are designed to help understand what’s possible and inspire your own sustainability program.

But remember, this is a non-prescriptive assessment framework. It’s designed to be used in any organisation, regardless of size or sector. You may feel that some of the examples are not relevant to your organisation. As with any assessment, you need to keep an open mind and ask the right questions to ensure this really is the case. You might well be surprised with some of the answers.

The 10 Principles of the United Nations Global Compact

The UN Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption:

Human Rights

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights;
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.


  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour;
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.


  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility;
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.


  • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Whilst the UNGC Principles are not explicitly referenced within the EFQM Excellence Model, the actions that support the effective implementation of them can be clearly linked to the EFQM Criteria. A table gives some examples of how the Principles link to the Criteria.

EFQM Framework for Sustainability - Summary

This document describes the success criteria for Sustainability and maps them to the EFQM Excellence Model, thus ensuring a comprehensive and balanced approach to planning and implementing Sustainability.


  • EFQM Member : 26.40 Euro (excluding VAT)
  • Non-Member : 33.00 Euro (Excluding VAT)



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Other formats

The EFQM Framework for Sustainability is also available in epublication format :