Sustainability in business refers to conducting business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole. A sustainable business strategy seeks to positively impact at least one of these areas. When businesses fail to accept responsibility, the opposite can take place, resulting in issues such as environmental degradation, inequality, and social injustice. When making business decisions, sustainable businesses take into account a wide range of environmental, economic, and social factors. These organizations keep a close eye on the impact of their operations to ensure that short-term gains do not become long-term liabilities.
Sustainability does not indicate the above profits or putting success on hold. Instead, it has evolved into a critical component of any organization’s successful strategy. A company that does not consider sustainability risks performs poorly in several areas, including profitability, growth, and employee retention.
How to make a business sustainable?
Connect with the need
To gain internal support for sustainability projects in large corporations, the teams responsible for championing the cause must develop and track performance measures that comply with the priorities of internal stakeholders, i.e., how they will be personally empowered to improve business sustainability.
Repair social trust
Business leaders must work together to re-establish society’s trust, as well as the trust of their customers, employees, and the communities in which they operate. They must also repair their operating license. Partnering with governments, customers, workers, and civil society, positively contributing to the community, and then openly communicating their sustainable interactions with society will provide long-term success in rebuilding societal trust in business.
Make sustainability a core principle
There are three approaches to integrating sustainability into an existing business: assimilation, mobilization, and transition, with the latter being the most successful in terms of long-term integration. While businesses that use the transition approach will continue to comply with aspects of the existing company mindset, they will also focus on reshaping policies, processes, and attitudes toward sustainability principles. This was mostly accomplished through widespread training, communication, and recruitment, resulting in wide-spread adoption.
Businesses with only a passing interest in sustainability will pursue whatever mainstream eco-friendly strategies are popular at the time. This is typically used as part of their marketing strategy in the hopes of increasing brand equity and consumers. The key action is to address specific sustainability topics rather than trying to apply broad sustainability concepts to a business. This necessitates a company making a decision about which topics are important to their organization and developing a strategy to implement those topics specifically.
Set a long-term, holistic vision
Recognize that sustainability is more than a token gesture to keep customers happy. Sustainable businesses set well-researched and achievable goals. Goals may include contributing to feeding programs, expanding educational opportunities both within and outside of the organization, or something far more ambitious, such as launching sustainability efforts all the way through the supply chain.
In addition to these specific actions, it is important for businesses to continually assess and improve their sustainability practices. One way to do this is through using sustainability reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Overall, incorporating sustainability into business strategy and operations can help organizations meet the expectations of stakeholders, improve brand reputation, reduce costs and risk, and contribute to the creation of sustainable communities.