Sustainability is a state of mind
At its core is a question that we all need to ask ourselves today – are we helping to create new generations that are better versions of ourselves?
Sustainability is a widely used term these days – grouping together many causes across societies, communities, countries and even more recently in business. However, we could run the risk of it turning into a loosely used word, if we don’t spend adequate time thinking about what it actually means to us and our businesses.
At its core is a question that we all need to ask ourselves today – are we helping to create new generations that are better versions of ourselves? If your answer is yes, then ask how exactly are you doing it. If you hear the word no, then it means you need to make a start.
Business sustainability has been referred to by experts as a “process to manage the triple bottom line” ie their financial, social and environmental obligations and opportunities. By taking this approach, you can deliver meaningful impact on three key groups - people, planet and profits. But here’s the mentality challenge that stems from this definition.
Given the way sustainability is marketed, one can be led to believe that you need to do big things to be noticed. And that’s exactly where we all go wrong. For one –sustainability is not a commitment based on marketing visibility. It’s great to talk about it, but support it wholly before you share.
Secondly, offering sustainability support does not in any way require you to be a company less focused on profits. It’s a great way to give back, while you still grow.
And third – starting in a small way is as important as anything else.
So how can small businesses make a start? Here are our tips:
- There are four pillars of sustainability – human, social, economic and environmental. Align your focus to one of these and plan from there.
- Sustainability is not always be about external commitment. Internal efforts to support employees more meaningfully is great too.
- When planning initiatives, customer activities or team activities spend a moment to think of how you can make it meaningful for the community and the planet.
- Re-think business processes and the impact on resources. Can you reduce printing? Stop using plastic across the company? Maybe even use energy efficient lighting?
- Set aside a small budget – approve a small spend each year to support a social cause.
Simply put, sustainability is not a one-stop plan that companies need to think of once in a way. It’s about considering it as a business approach. And ultimately, its less about money and more about strategic commitment. If every company can give sustainability a 5% share of their strategic initiatives for the year, then we clearly stand to win for the future.