A sustainable business is a company that has no negative impact on the global or local environment. A sustainable business:
Uses principles of sustainability in its management decisions.
Manufactures and supplies environmentally friendly products.
Has made a commitment to follow environmental guidelines.
Becoming a sustainable business is a process. It involves planning and then, execution of the plan. Employees need to be involved in all planning phases in order for the sustainability plan to be successful. Employees need to have a vested interest in the sustainability plan.
A sustainable business will:
Increase employee productivity
As a result they will decrease operating costs and Increase profits.
A Brundtland Report explained that, “sustainability is a three-legged stool of people, planet and profit.” Sustainable development in a company creates value for the customers and the environment and the investors.
The single most important example of practicing sustainability is to go paperless. This is easier said than done. It means producing all memos and reports online and then, reading them online. It means communicating with customers on line and replying to inquiries online. It means bringing laptops to conferences and meetings to set agendas and work assignments.
Following in the footsteps of its founder, Henry Ford, the company uses only “green” fabrics and materials. Seat fabric is made form 100 percent post-industrial materials and renewable soy foam. Ford recently appointed the company’s first vice president of sustainability, environment and safety.
In Korea, they use rice husks as packaging for stereo components and other electronic equipment. This material is then used as a component to make bricks.
A sustainable business will give back to its community. They do this by:
- Employees volunteering in community activities, such as re-building and refurbishing housing for the homeless, building playgrounds and cleaning empty lots.
- Mentoring young people.
- Tutoring students.
- Giving employees opportunities to work in the community.
- Offering internships to high school and college students.
- Making charitable donations.
Practices like these improve the level of the quality of life in the community. It improves their status in the community and inspires others to give also.
Characteristics of a Sustainable Business
The following list describes a sustainable business.
- Creating products of service. This involves leasing durable goods that are technological in nature. When they are worn out, they are returned to the manufacturer to be processed into a new design.
- Products of consumption are made only of biodegradable materials. They are not hazardous to humans or the environment. They decompose naturally.
- Endeavors to use sustainable energy technology, such as solar, wind, or geothermal. A wind turbine can pay for itself in fewer than ten years. It is a constant reminder to the community that you are committed to environmentally sound decisions.
- Local-based economies entail using local products and engaging with other local businesses for service. This creates a stronger local community and a web of partnerships.
- Continual evaluation and improvement of procedures, policies, and products. The sustainability plan should include an evaluation component.
- Triple Bottom Line will simultaneously produce
- A. Financial benefits for the company
- B. Natural world betterment
- C. Social advantages for employees
These characteristics were a result of the Rio Summit on the Environment held in 1992.
Establishing standards for lending and holding the criteria up against environmental protection and sustainable development is a move toward a sustainable financial business.
Developing environmentally oriented investment opportunities is another way to be financially sustainable. The Dow Jones World Sustainability Index measures the value of sustainable businesses in the world.
Sustainable business practices are applicable to all business operations and not just “green” policies of recycling and waste management. A sustainable business thinks of more than just the environment. It thinks of people – its employees, its community, its customers, They can lead by example.