Importance of Sustainability in Organizations
Introduction Never before has sustainability been more important on the corporate agenda. According to Brundtland Commission of the United Nations (1987) sustainability is defined as operating in a way that preserves the long-term quality and productive capacity of both the natural and social environments in which a company operates. For humans, sustainability is defined as the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions. Sustainability therefore involves: • A broad view of social, environmental and economic outcomes for an organization. A long-term perspective, concerned with the interests and rights of future generations as well as of people today. • An inclusive approach to action, which recognises the need for all people, including the employees, to be involved in the decisions that affect their lives made by an organization. Sustainability is now rapidly emerging as an important part of corporate business strategy. Until recently, it remained a notion embraced by a few fringe players, notably the big multinational corporations. However, sustainability is now part of mainstream corporate practice. Implementing sustainability in an organization
The three dimensions that most organizations normally adhere to in an effort to develop a sustainability model are the economic, environmental and social. The organization has responsibilities to its shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and all stakeholders, including the local communities it operates within. Many an organization take sustainability to mean environmental stewardship meaning they address only one of these aspects explained earlier. Each project, process, and decision made by an organization’s management has an economic, environmental and social aspect.
Therefore, the three responsibilities are interrelated and must be addressed together. Efforts have been made by researchers to provide a model for a sustainability frame work based on the business excellence principles (Goldsmith & Samson; 2007). This resulted to the BEST business excellence framework (BBE) was suggested in 2002 (Edgeman, 2002): B- Sustainability for bio/physical E- Sustainability for economic S- Sustainability for social; and T- Sustainability for technological Conclusion Sustainability has never before been as prominent on the corporate agenda.
Presently, indications are that it will become even more critical to company strategy and operations in the coming years. The experiences of management of companies leading in the field of sustainability provide a number of insightful lessons for other managers embarking on a move towards sustainable practices: Make the economic case: Executives are increasingly seeing opportunity in sustainability, not just risk. Subsequently, sustainability practices are moving from the domain of corporate affairs and corporate communications into the mainstream of the company.
Although the short-term financial benefits are not clear, executives do understand the long-term economic importance of sustainability, increasingly viewing such policies and practices as crucial to the company’s future existence. Embed sustainability across the enterprise: Many organizations are incorporating sustainability into the heart of corporate strategy, such that sustainability cannot be separated from the company’s core business objectives. Internal structures enable sustainable principles to be propagated, across the enterprise.
Although only 18% of firms link variable pay to sustainability, cash incentives for staff appear to be growing in number. Some firms are rating suppliers too and rewarding those that make a contribution to their own sustainability goals. Engage with stakeholders: Top executives say it is vital to report progress against publicly stated sustainability goals, and that the scrutiny helps to improve progress in meeting these targets. Leading firms are also filtering stakeholder issues in a structured way—and tailoring their communication with them.
Many executives say actively engaging with stakeholders can lead to a competitive advantage. References: CSRHUB (2011). Sustainability: Defining the Indefinable Retrieved from URL: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bruntland_Commision on 23rd June 2011. Edgeman, R. L. , & Hensler, D. A. (2002). Modelling BEST Business Excellence. Measuring business excellence. 6, 2, 49-54. Goldsmith, S. , & Samson, D. (2007). The Role and Contribution of Sustainable Development in Organizational Excellence. SAI Global Publishing Limited: Sydney, Australia.
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