Sustainability is no longer a buzzword, but a strategic issue that must be addressed by organizations and businesses regardless of the size and location. Such global companies as Ikea, Henkel, Adidas Group, Heineken, Procter & Gamble have already recognized that fact that to remain competitive they have to adapt to emerging demands from the market and society. They responded to these new demands and expressed their commitment to tackle these issues by incorporating sustainability practices into their business strategies and operations. (See their annual sustainability reports.)
The concept of sustainability goes beyond the environmental movement. It implies balanced approach towards integration of social, economic and environmental considerations into activities of organizations. Since economy, society and environment are interdependent, it is in the interest of organizations to make the right decisions and take necessary actions that positively impact the development of all 3 realms. Among the main drivers that push companies to pursue sustainability are: legislation, pressure from stakeholders, issues related to brand reputation, risk management, finite resources, climate change, more health conscious society. Therefore, companies have to embrace sustainability thinking and come to realization that they can do well by doing good.
In the book The Business Guide to Sustainability: Practical Strategies and Tools for Organizations, authors Darcy Hitchcock and Marsha Willard write, “The health of our economy, our communities and our environment all hinge on our ability to make sustainability practices mainstream.” They emphasize that “in a world with finite resources, ecosystems under severe pressure, a changing global climate and a growing population, sustainability thinking calls for organizations to understand all material, social and environmental impacts of the business, establish metrics to measure their success in managing those impacts while succeeding economically, and scan the external environment constantly for threats and opportunities.”
Embedding sustainability in company’s day-to-day operations can bring many direct benefits not only to society and economy, but to business itself (see infographic).
Written by Natalie Myhalnytska
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