Many of you ask yourself, “What is sustainability in business?” when you realise the impacts that your business and personal decisions have on the planet and society.
So, if you want to understand sustainable development to create profitable operational efficiency and consider future generations, then this blog is for you.
In this blog, we will discuss sustainability in business, its importance, its three pillars, its benefits, and how to build a sustainable business strategy.
Sustainability in Business
Sustainability in business is a hot topic these days, with more and more organisations realising the benefits of being environmentally and socially responsible.
In business, sustainability refers to businesses’ impact on the environment or society and how they might minimise negative consequences while maximising good ones. A sustainable business strategy seeks to provide value for the organisation, its stakeholders, and the environment.
Depending on the industry, size, and organisation’s goals, various approaches to sustainability in business exist. Some common examples of sustainability in business include:
- Reducing waste and pollution by using sustainable resources in the manufacturing process, such as recycled, organic, or biodegradable materials.
- Choosing local, ethical, and efficient suppliers and distributors to reduce glasshouse gas emissions, water usage, and energy use.
- Using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, or hydropower, to power facilities to reduce carbon footprint and save money.
- Supporting education funds, health programmes, or social activities in the local community improves people’s quality of life and well-being and promotes a positive reputation.
Importance of Sustainability
Stakeholders – employees, customers, lenders, regulators and others – care about sustainability, and so should businesses. Many workers, especially those new to the job market, prefer to work for a company that positively impacts sustainability, which also influences hiring and retention.
Many businesses are discovering that their customers – whether individuals, governments or other businesses – demand more sustainable products, such as solar panels, heat pumps, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems etc.
The importance of sustainability in businesses is that it acknowledges the planet’s resources have limits and aims to overcome their depletion. Having sustainable strategies in place allows a company to deliver its products or services in a way that contributes to economic growth while having the least negative impact on the environment and its communities.
Three Pillars of Business Sustainability
Businesses that provide sustainable energy solutions consider the impact of a policy or business practice on three pillars—the environment, the economy, and society—rather than focusing solely on short-term gains.
In the business world, the concept of sustainability is also known as corporate social responsibility, which means that when making decisions, an organisation considers the greater good and long-term impact on people, the planet, and profits.
- The Environmental Sustainability
Anything that reduces your impact on the natural environment is considered environmentally sustainable. Environmental sustainability usually concentrates on reducing a company’s carbon footprint to help mitigate climate change and respecting natural resource regeneration cycles and scarcity. Environmental sustainability strategies that are implemented throughout a company’s supply chain are typically the most effective.
- The Economic Sustainability
Economic sustainability encompasses everything from good governance to compliance and risk management. It benefits businesses by lowering their energy use, waste, and other costs, attracting customers and employees who value environmental and social sustainability, and reducing their reliance on finite natural resources such as oil and coal.
A company, for example, may begin to use solar energy to power its operations. The savings benefit the business once the initial installation costs are recovered, and the transition benefits the environment by lowering glasshouse gas emissions.
- The Social Sustainability
Human rights and diversity are central to social sustainability in business. It may entail ensuring that the company provides equal opportunity and fair remuneration and taking steps to support the well-being and safety of employees, customers, stakeholders, and the broader community.
Build a Sustainable Strategy for Your Business
Every business is different, so their strategies will also differ based on their clients’ services and products. But below are some general sustainable strategies that you can implement to make your business more sustainable:
In most offices, utilities such as water and electricity are used extensively. Investing in environmentally friendly utilities is one way to incorporate sustainable practices into the workplace.
While this may incur some upfront costs, it can reduce the cost of future utility bills as well as environmental harm. Consider using energy-efficient LED lighting, solar power or heat pump water heater, and efficient air conditioning.
Organisations constructing new buildings or renovating existing ones can incorporate sustainability into many design elements, such as passive climate control and greywater recycling.
Reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Make your office paperless.
Transitioning to a paperless business can be a fantastic way to reduce a company’s carbon footprint. Because of the advancement of technology and the internet, this is a much easier strategy to implement than it was previously.
There are numerous technological alternatives to paper. Two examples are customer relationship management software as a replacement for paper filing cabinets and accounting software for paperless billing.
Benefits of Sustainability
Sustainability is not a passing trend. It is an essential aspect for the business owners, employees, customers, and investors. As, sustainability can benefit your business and employees in many ways. Here are some of the most common ones:
Positive impact: A significant advantage of sustainability in business is the chance to make a difference and positively impact society. A business can help protect the planet for future generations by adopting sustainable strategies.
Competitive edge: Many customers like to support businesses that care about their environmental footprint and use sustainable methods. A sustainable business model can also increase customer loyalty.
Higher productivity: A result of sustainable corporate practices is smooth processes and operational effectiveness. This can lead to higher output and overall business productivity.
Lower costs: While enhancing a business’s sustainability can involve initial costs, it usually lowers costs over time. Businesses can achieve higher productivity when implementing sustainable measures, significantly reducing operational costs.
Investor and employee attraction: Society, especially Generation Y and Z, generally wants to associate with businesses that respect the environment and their people. Demonstrating a business’s sustainability efforts can draw in employees and investors who share the same vision.
In business, sustainability means empowering employees and customers to make better decisions based on readily available data on products, operations, and supply chains. This includes businesses that provide sustainability information on their websites, marketing and advertising, and product labels.
All businesses, from sole proprietorships to large corporations, have a role in achieving better social and environmental outcomes. Even if your company isn’t large enough to hire staff to manage your sustainability journey, you could form a working group to keep up with the latest developments and use the guide to help meet some of your company’s short, medium, and long-term sustainability goals.