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The term “sustainability” has been at the forefront of much political, economic and social discourse as of late. And while its importance cannot be denied, it’s also not unfair to recognize that a part of the general public still doesn’t understand exactly what it means or what it entails. In the simplest terms, sustainability refers to meeting the needs of the present without compromising our ability to satisfy the very same needs in the future. The planet doesn’t possess an infinite amount of resources, so using them irresponsibly endangers the likelihood of a prosperous society. If sustainability goals are met, humanity can expect to co-exist safely with the planet’s ecosystems for a long time.
Sustainability has also been a very important factor in business. Companies have acknowledged that the trend is for consumers to spend their money on the greenest product and at the eco-friendliest vendor. From here stems the need for corporate sustainability. If done correctly, this strategy can increase profits, boost your public image, your sales, as well as workplace satisfaction levels for your employees. It also means that you understand your role in your community and your responsibility to create a cleaner, safer environment.
But what exactly is corporate sustainability, and what are its main pillars? Let’s have a closer look at the concept.
What is it?
Corporate sustainability aims to adopt a business strategy focused on the ethical, environmental, social and cultural dimensions of conducting business. It’s a refreshing approach and in stark contrast with the well-established, stereotypical views of companies as money-hungry and ready to sacrifice any moral principle in the drive for profit. The strategies incorporated into corporate sustainability aim to increase the longevity of your business through feasible development. Depending on which one of the dimensions you choose to focus on most, there are different ways to measure your enterprise’s efficiency:
- Eco-efficiency: Aiming to change unsustainable development and replace polluting methods and actions with better solutions for the environment and ecosystems. This category particularly focuses on negative aspects such as polluting substances used during the manufacturing process or improper waste disposal practices, as well as how they can be remedied and gradually eliminated.
- Socio-efficiency: Describing the relationship between a business and its social impact, this category includes both positive and negative aspects. Among the former are employment creation, and among the latter are work accidents or unethical work practices.
The best plan is to prioritize them both in order to create a business that can accurately claim it meets all sustainability criteria.
One of the main pillars of sustainability is transparency in everything. If you want to create something durable that’s going to last for a long time, you need to be upfront about it and establish accurate and clear communication about it with both your customers and your employees. By doing this, you also eliminate short-termism in favor of long-term security.
To ensure optimal sustainability practices, you can use specialized software that helps you keep track of your data and activities. EHS is popular with many organizations for this very reason, as it helps streamline processes and makes them easily accessible for all company members to view. EHS software takes environmental implications into consideration, with pertinent management being one of its core pinnacles.
Sustainability is all about making plans in the present with the knowledge they will benefit you in the future. The upfront costs may be higher, but you’re not only thinking about the next few months or even the next year. Innovation is one of the key aspects of business development, and you need to encourage it within your business. All ideas can’t come only from you and the board of directors. It must be a team effort. Your whole team can come up with ideas. It would actually be a hugely missed opportunity to omit to ask the people working every day with those systems and at those tasks about what improvements they think would help maximize output while also making their work easier and safer.
Foster creativity in the workplace, and you’ll see that your company will progress exponentially. When everyone works together as a team, you’re more likely to see results as well, and that quicker than you expected.
Much has been said about gender and racial equality within the workplace, and while in theory things look great, in practice, there are still many things that could be improved. When you take the steps to ensure equality is something you’re consistently working towards, you send the message that you prioritize your social responsibility and that you truly believe that all people have a right to the same opportunities.
It also ensures your business can progress in more than one direction. Different people will offer different perspectives so your business can develop better. You’re also more likely to attract talented employees and get them to stay rather than leave after only a few months. Productivity increases as well, and you also take a concrete step towards reducing poverty within disenfranchised demographics.
When you prioritize corporate sustainability, you help your business alongside the environment. Profits get a boost because your business operates more efficiently and therefore produces fewer overhead costs. Your public image and reputation are also much improved, which is very important for any business. This aspect helps increase your sales and allows you to build a devoted, loyal clientele. It also increases your market share and makes you a tougher competitor for other businesses in your niche.
You also improve employee satisfaction, which makes your company more attractive to prospective employees. If you make a name for yourself as someone trustworthy and who cares about your crew, you’re more likely to get talented and responsible people applying. And, of course, you can’t just ignore all the benefits it has for the planet. Protecting it is what makes business possible in the first place, so it’s important never to forget that looking after Mother Earth should be a top priority for each and every one of us.