What Is Sustainability? A Guide for Business
In many business organizations, sustainability has become a significant area of concern. Regardless of the industry you are in, having a strategy for sustainability can determine the success of your business. This is why most companies are now incorporating sustainability as part of their business strategies to do well.
With that being said, let’s find out more about sustainability and what it means to businesses.
What is sustainability? It is the act of how the biological system can endure different factors and remain diverse and productive.
Sustainability can also be defined as the ability by which we can satisfy our wants and needs without making it difficult for future generations to do the same as well. For this to happen, there are a few other things that need to be considered other than just natural resources. Both economic and social resources are also as necessary.
In general, sustainability is the ability to maintain a balance between natural resources, economic development, and social equity.
When it comes to business, sustainability mainly focuses on two significant areas. First, there are the effects of the company on the environment and, secondly, the impact it has on the community.
For a company to be quite efficient, it should focus on having a positive effect on both the environment and society. This is why a good sustainability strategy is essential to business organizations. Without it, a lot of things can go wrong. This includes social injustice, environmental degradation, and inequality.
As the world is changing, the business sector is no exception. A business that can find a way to adapt to these changes and still be able to satisfy human wants efficiently will have a higher chance of thriving in the future.
Look at it this way, with the alarming rate of climate change, we are already experiencing a lot of changes. The environment is becoming unbearable for human survival due to global warming. A lot of resources are also being used in an attempt to curb the situation. Other problems come with climate change, such as water scarcity, among other disruptions. It might even get worse in the future if nothing is done from the people’s side.
That’s why some entrepreneurs and activists are working towards bringing the best ideas and innovations to change the situation. In this video, Christiaan Maats, a designer and entrepreneur, explains how meaningful products can embody the change we want to see in the world and sheds light on his vision of a circular society that integrates industrial society with its natural roots.
As mentioned before, sustainability can lead to the success of a business as it helps in improving a lot of things within the industry and the whole world. Most companies use the Environment, Social, and Governance metrics to help them track their progress when it comes to sustainability practices and ethical impacts of the organization. According to McKinsey’s research, the results showed that businesses that recorded high ESG ratings had reduced the cost of debt and equity as well.
For a business to be considered sustainable, there are three major factors that it should focus on. Also, proper strategies should be laid out to improve in these areas.
As mentioned before, a sustainable business is one that can meet human needs and still maintain the right balance between the three major factors. Here are the three major pillars of sustainability.
This refers to the ability to maintain the ecological integrity whereby all the environmental systems on the Earth are kept in balance. This means being able to utilize the Earth’s natural resources and allowing them to regenerate again. How can a company achieve this? By minimizing waste from the production, and returning resources such as trees, clean water, and air will help to achieve environmental sustainability.
This is the process for which humans can maintain their financial independence to have access to specific resources they would need to satisfy their needs. This means that companies work through some charity initiatives to help people from developing countries to get a job, education to buy enough food, live under the roof, and drink clean water.
This refers to the ability to maintain a healthy and secure community through the acquisition of specific resources. This can be achieved by making sure that every person’s labor, cultural, and personal rights are respected. Also, there should not be any discrimination among people. That means that a company has fair working conditions and care about their employees through social and health benefits.
Having sustainability initiatives can also help businesses to enjoy public support and improve their financial performance as well. Here are a few companies that are currently running sustainability initiatives.
Nike is focusing on how they can reduce waste and minimize its carbon footprint. Besides, the company works toward full recycling. Since 1992, they have collected surplus manufacturing materials and athletic footwear to create innovative surfaces for different needs.
Nestle is aiming to improve on its product life cycle, water efficiency, climate change, and waste as well.
There are a lot of ways in which businesses can transform and become more sustainable. Below are some of them.
A sustainable society is one that is self-sufficient and focuses more on how to reduce pollution and eliminate waste. This is the only way in which the coming generations can be able to find a well-preserved environment. One that will have reduced cases of global warming but with improved air and water quality, among other things.
To achieve this, a lot of effort should be put into raising public awareness and letting know more about sustainable choices. Also, quality education should be promoted to help the young generation to understand more about the environment they are living in.
Both the government and businesses should also invest more in building environmentally friendly infrastructure, as this can have a significant impact on society. People should also look to reevaluate their values and encourage practices that can help in conserving the earth’s resources and reduce the amount of waste produced.
Currently, there are a few brands that are helping in the fight towards achieving a sustainable society.
For instance, Eton is one of the biggest fashion brands in Sweden. They use cotton fibers for their products and have total control of their supply chain. Eton more on long-term cooperation with their partners and therefore providing fair labor conditions.
In the UK, there are also a few fashion giants like Beaumont Organic and Thought. They are also looking to achieve a sustainable society by using sustainable materials (as organic cotton or unused fabric rolls) to make their products.
A sustainable society can also be achieved when good environmental practices are applied. This includes minimizing the amount of waste and carbon emissions from the production industries by using sustainable technology.
Other businesses can also start initiatives on how to reduce waste products and also encourage the use of environmentally friendly materials.
Transparency in Public Communications
Transparency is another factor that can help maintain a sustainable society. When there is an open environment both in community and businesses, there will be an improvement in the performance.
This can be achieved through having public communications in all the levels in the company. It is essential to practice high levels of information disclosure and ensure that the information passed is entirely accurate and precise. With transparency, it will be much easier to identify and improve in areas of weakness. Filippa K is that brand that cares not only about the social aspect of sustainability. It also provides reports and work roadmap regarding the steps taken, so anyone can check where the products are produced and how they do it.
As we have seen, sustainability is a significant factor in business. But how can you achieve a sustainable business? Consider these few tips.
Reconsider Objectives and Establish Your Mission
This should be the first step towards developing a sustainable business plan. It is essential to reconsider your objectives as a company and find out what sustainability means to your business. The business also needs to redefine its mission. An excellent mission statement might just be what your business needs to become sustainable.
What does a sustainable business plan include?
- Environmental policies compliance. Your business already might be compliant with general law regarding production, quality of work, and product or services standards. You can look towards environmental protection policies or organizations that are dealing with it to join one of them. Also, each country or international association has different statements, so you can look toward the specific one that suits you.
- Steps to minimize waste and control the number of resources used. If you have any factory or you deal with manufacturing, try to look toward minimization of waste from production or look into the long-lasting quality of your products, so they will serve longer to the customers. You can also collect and recycle the products that were in use. Consider the reward program, and your customers will help you to become more sustainable. Look at the example of the Timberland initiative.
- A clear vision for the company. Assess global issues, such as global warming, air pollution, waste disposal, and choose the area where you can have a meaningful impact.
- Integration of sustainability into your company. Write principles to ensure that you’ll see that the plan is taken into action. You can test the idea by creating a volunteer group, setting up the meetings with each department to give them full information and guidance on the new strategy.
Assess the Risks
A company that’s looking to become sustainable should also consider the risk involved with the methods they choose to use. The methods used should be of benefit to both the business and the environment around them.
Create a Sustainable Strategy
When coming up with a sustainable plan for your business, you need to make sure that the company will remain profitable. This is how you will be able to support the program. You can’t create a sustainable business strategy when you have no business. This is why you need to craft a plan that will help you stay in business. As a proven fact, sustainability can help your business to become even more profitable.
This is the time to look back to the Toms company. Just imagine, this company has provided 94 million people with shoes, clean water, and some of them got educational grants. Wow, right? Their business model was simple – a customer buys one pair of shoes, and they give one pair to the kid in need. Each couple of years, they’ve launched new collections, and now Toms sells shoes, sunglasses, bags, coffee, and won’t stop on that.
Adopt It to Your Organization
After laying down your strategy, it is also essential to find a way to incorporate it into your organization. Ensure the plan will not interfere with the business operations or demand more from the business. It should be in line with the activities within the organization.
At WEB4PRO, we wanted to be among companies that commit to a sustainable society. We know that we can’t make it through the production because we aren’t manufacturers. However, through the development, tips on optimization, less resource hungry solutions, and long-lasting websites, we help sustainable brands to achieve their goals. Together we are combining efforts and will see the sustainable world with happy people in the future.
A business should also come up with grand plans that can produce great results and help them achieve their goals. With an excellent mission statement, you should also be ready to lay down result-oriented strategies to back it up with. When developing the strategies, it is always a good practice to revisit the cycle occasionally. This will help you to always keep your mission, objectives, and progress in line.