What is Sustainability in Business?
The first aspect business looks when thinking about sustainability is the operational aspect and saving cost as it is easy to measure.Most of the resource we are using are non-renewable resources,from our energy need to the consumption of oil.But all these resources are bound to get over in the future.There is a term called peak oil,after which production of oil reduces due to reduce reserves.There is already an alert for helium gas which is used in many areas like filling up of gas balloons or in detection of leak and also in some medical purposes.
So there is a need to reduce the reliances on all these non-renewable resource andtry to do more with less.It can be seen that by doing this,business’s can save cost.Some of the ways to achieve this is by making optimum use of paper.Optimum use of paper can done by using both the sides of a paper instead of using one side for printing or writing purposes.Also trying to save electricity by switching off unnecessary power and making your employees travel less which will help to reduce fuel consumption.Buying less is another way saving cost as people has a tendency of wasting most of the things they buy.This issue can be addressed by buying only the things people require in the first place.Just by looking at the areas where there is a tendency to spent more and evaluating those areas is a good way to make business more sustainable.
But a business cannot be successful or sustainable by only saving money.The three pillars “people planet profit has to be given equal importance.It is seen that there are ways of making profit by a organization by incorporating sustainability in their agenda.Some ways to start with are trying to generate ways to make product through renewable energy and also by reducing carbon emission through sustainable means.One another way to improve sustainability is to segregate our waste and selling it to the waste managers.this way a company can earn a little share of its profit even from its by product.By incorporating sustainable material in a product or trying to find ways to make the product itself sustainable,a company can aim to attract their customers as this might give them a potential edge in the market.As Alexandra and Mckay stated in their book Sustainability could be the thing that sways a potential customer to choose you. Business can make sustainable products such as hybrid cars,can focus on electric vehicles,can even go for complete organic food.Services in a business can be made sustainable by asking companies to efficiently use their machines,work-force and trying to and trying to initiate process that offer carbon less solutions.
As a matter of fact sustainability is also about managing relationships with the employess,customers,regulators and in general the public.If a business can provide a healthy and safe environment to its employees and giving them opportunity to realise their dreams ,the employees will always stay motivated which will help the company to become successful because it’s the employees who develop strategies,deliver their products and carry the company’s goal to the market.Customers will buy a product if they see a sustainability element in it.They will want to buy a product from a company who has a sense of social responsibility imbibe in them.Supply chain organization making an effort towards sustainability can reflect their values and thus increase their reputation before the general public’s view.Sustainability is also becoming a requirement in all public and private sector companies as it is seen that most of the company complies with the ISO 14001 which is an international standard that sets criteria for an environmental management system.Productive partnerships can be made as business’s will be willing to associate themselves with a company that has a good reputation.One more aspect we need to see is the people.They are more conscious today then before and these consciousness largely influence there purchasing activities.Business cannot be separated from a society.People in a society talk to each other and if they see that a business or a company is managing issues like a pollution and trying to go for green energy,they develop a feeling of respect towards the business which in turn can make their product more popular among the masses,thus increasing their profit share.Moreover there is a growing awareness among the world regulators towards controlling pollution and carbon emission.This sincerety can be seen from the fact that all the superpowers in the world are thinking ways of curbing carbon dioxide emission and promoting sustainable energy. So staying on the right side can help to maintain a nice relationship between the regulators and business.Thus it can be said that sustainability helps to improve the reputation of a business and also can contribute to the smooth running of it.
ACHIEVING SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH EFFICIENCY IN RESOURCE UTILISATION IN A BUSINESS-
Company can achieve the goals of sustainability through the efficient uses of resource mainly being waste,water and energy.Eliminating the waste through recycling and reusing can save energy and cost both.
Some companies have tried the idea of reusing plastics into construction of roads.There are states in India where this idea has been tried by some company.It helps the company to maintain their sustainability agenda and at the same time significantly reducing the raw material cost which is charcoal.It also contributes to the economy as plactics are easier to access.In the southern state of Tamil nadu in India 1634.27 tonnes of plastic waste had been utilized to construct a road of 1035 km road.Self help groups are trained for segregation of plastic which are then sold by the waste collector thus in a way improving the economy of the people and the country as a whole. Energy can be reduced in business and at the same time can save cost of a company.Companies and manufacturing plant can use their electricity generated from renewable source by installing solar panels into their facilities.These saves them from the extra bills they have to endure.Smart sensing lights can be used in new projects.companies like Microsoft is working with many utility companies around the world to use electricity from renewable sources.which is needed to power thrie servers.They are also focusing on contructing their office building with energy smart building concept,thus setting an example before the corporate sectors.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILTY-
Corporate social responsibility is about doing business in a healthy environment with good customers and a sense of responsibility towards the people environment and society.This is an important aspect for the success of a company.As stated by David E Hawkins in his book “it does not matter if you call them corporate social responsibility or sustainable development.They are good business good citizenship and common sense.If right choices are made,everyone can strive together and developing corporate social responsibility helps in achieving that objective.
Sustainable development is not only about protecting the environment and natural resource,but also ensuring social economic welfare of the people.The three p’s that is planet people and profit are interconnected and inseperable.A business can create employment and wealth which in turn will ensure a long term sustainable development program.Incorporating innovation in business can help it to become sustainable as well as profitable.If the corporate social responsibility policies can be decentralized and decision are allowed to be taken in the lower level by a supply chain then sustainability can be brought by involving the local community which will help to make a positive change in the society.The key factor is to understand the customers preferences and develop a new product that has a sustainable element in it and establishing it in the market.The corporate strategy will also be affected by the social trend,so a study of observing the change in social trend will also help a business by providing an alternative solution if there is a change observed for the future market.Encouraging and bringing talents to work for innovation in sustainability is a good way of going forward.One main sector is the small and medium enterprises.They can play a major role in promoting sustainable agenda because globalization is increasing and multinationals will depend more on local markets.Incorporating the concept of green energy in their work plces will help to promote the goals of sustainability to the lower level.
Eco efficiency is another factor that should be looked into with utmost interst.though most of it are already discussed above there is a need to look at the logistics aspect.Transportation is costly and contributes to pollution,so there is fair scope of optimizing its effect.Some ways can be developed to achieve that such as establishing synergies between return cargo and empty return vehicle.It saves fuel and transportation.A single vehicle can be made to do networked deliveries in one trip if the destinations lie in the same route.It can be done through effective management.In such ways transportation frequency can be reduced on roads as well as pollution.
Ethics in trade is very important in order to develop a healthy business environment.It means as stated by Hawkins in his bookis a reqirement for all business ,which means operating within the applicable law and respecting the rights of others in every sphere of operations.Its basically about maintaining a good and productive relations with the stakeholders which include the customers,suppliers,investors.The factors related to ethics are bribery,corruption.organised crime,forced labour etc.There are companies or organisations who has built internal policies that helps them in upholding their moral and ethical view and largely supported by their customers.But to get a project by a company in a particular place,it has to resort to bribery or accept some conditions which are against their ethics.So there are certain complexity in global trade which are needed to be addressed.But it can be controlled to some extend by proper monitoring and setting proper guide lines in dealing with issues like aid programmes to some country and making transparency a priority.Issues like corruption can be addressed by making proper agreement by governments both internally and externally.Sometimes the companies should be able to take hard steps even it compromises their market profit for a greater benefit.Negotiation with suppliers can be made productive if there is a capacity to purchase by leveraging them and making them complaint with the sustainability agenda such as obeying the national laws of employment,strictly prohibiting child labour and forced labour.Also concentrating on the workers will give a business a fair share of its profit in the market.By upgrading the quality of the factory,providing the rightful pay to its labour,providing basic health service through some incentives will not only make the place a healthy environment for business but will also keep the workers motivated.though there are some complicated decisions that need to be taken in relation to ethical trading like risk of bad relations with different stakeholders when going to apply some guidelines in their business,some of it can be resolved if the company make its stand clear from the very beginning of its venture.
Some business are benifitting by incorporating corporate social responsibility.companies should focus on integrating their business which will help to influence their other stakeholders to abide by the sustainable clauses.A basic industrial code of conduct should be developed and followed.There is a growing consciousness among the customers to imbibe sustainability in their behavior when looking to buy a thing and this influencing the business’s to take this issue with sincerity.Retention of customers through their services is also about being sustainable in business.It is generally seen that companies that have a good sustainable programme get permission for construction or related activities quite easily by the authorities because of maintaining a good reputation for carrying out those programmes.Promoting innovation in sustainability which is also a part of the greater corporate social responsibility picture as discussed earlier can help to manage futute risk.So as stated by Hawkins in his bookcompanys sustainability offers benefit which both reduce cost and improve market position,so directly enhancing profitability.Also community works which is a very good practice maintained by the business’s helps in improving the economy of the people and creating a more sustainable environment which in turn add value flow back to the business as these works really enhances its public image.
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