Integration of sustainability commitments into a company’s competitive strategy plan will increase the likelihood of ongoing funding.

More and more Fortune Global 500 companies are following this approach. Ben Packard, VP of global responsibility at Starbucks described his company’s rationale like this:

At Starbucks, sustainability and strategy are now integrated at the strategic planning level. The global responsibility strategy is driven at the enterprise, strategic planning, and annual operating planning level. One reason we do this is because the bigger costs of driving changes in our supply chain occur outside of the global responsibility budget.

The road to sustainability integration into competitive strategy is difficult. But companies such as Starbucks, UPS, Centrica, and Hitachi are employing three common steps to create “sustainability infused competitive strategies.” These steps include:

Seek natural ways to tie sustainability and strategy together

Connect sustainability to opportunity

Integrate materiality issues into competitive strategy

Good examples of how leading companies are ensuring corporate sustainability initiatives provide value and do not get marginalized.