Sustainability - Economic Profitability, respect for Environment, & Social Responsibility

Sustainability is not only good for humanity but also good for business. It can lead to greater financial performance for business and the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. Chris Boyd, Senior Vice-President, Environment and Public Affairs, Lafarge, defines it as a triple bottom line of economic profitability, respect for the environment, and social responsibility.

Jeffrey Hollender, the professor of sustainability at NYU Stern and the CEO of Sustain Natural defines sustainability as, “a systematic approach to thinking about the total impact a business has on the planet, as well as society.” Sustainability does not only address the environment, but all the stakeholders involved. So in addition to a company’s carbon footprint, it takes stock of all the participants in the supply chain, namely, suppliers, workers, employees, collaborators, shareholders, customers, and the society that uses their products.

How a company treats its employees can ultimately determine its earnings per share, as also demonstrated by the study published in the Harvard Business Review by Corey Rosen and Michael Quarrey. When provided a strong and supportive organisational culture and empowered to interpret and deliver brand promise, employees become more loyal and perform better, hence reducing turnover. Employees who have been well inducted into a business become brand ambassadors. If they understand the company’s vision and mission and imbibe its brand identity, all their actions within the firm become brand oriented. This leads to stronger brand orientation across the supply chain which co-creates brand value and drives a consistent brand promise. This ultimately leads to business success.

Sustainability is a good strategy for manufacturing businesses. Not only does it reduce the inputs of raw materials and fuels, but it also reduces waste reduction by utilising the by-products. As a sustainable company, its products are likely to have more value added to them in terms of technology used and meeting emerging customer expectations. It makes for better brand image, subsequently strengthening brand equity and hence brand value. This, in turn, will help reduce the chances of any new taxes or regulations.

A sustainable business model can become the core strength of an organisation, serving as a source of sustained competitive advantage in the market. Considering the circumstances of our times, a sustainable approach can make the company more resilient to shocks and more agile in today’s fast-changing world. Given the current consumer and industrial sentiment, it will make the business more likely to attract employees and customers, and also win their loyalty.

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