Sustainability Is Not Only About Environmental Causes

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Sustainable business has become a common phrase in recent years, concerning everyone despite the industry or the size of the company. For many, sustainability refers strictly to environmental causes. And no wonder. Because of the alarming state of the environment due to pollution and climate change, environmental causes have been on the headlines.

While environmental themes are crucial, it is important to keep in mind that they are not the only aspect of sustainability. 

In the case of business, sustainability refers to doing business without impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole in a negative manner. Sustainable business aims to make a positive impact on at least one of the following areas, typically addressing the effect business has on the society or environment. 

While environmental sustainability has gained increasing attention, social sustainability has been left behind. In theory, both environmental and social responsibility fall under the category of social issues which ties the two closely together. However, to make sure the other social issues will not be buried under the ever growing pressure coming from the urgent environmental problems, it is critical to address social sustainability as its own concept.

Social sustainability refers to identifying and managing the impacts, both positive and negative, the business has on people. It aims to find ways to improve the lives of the people they affect, for example by creating decent jobs, products, and services that help meet the needs of people; by creating more inclusive value chains; by making strategic investments that promote social causes; and promoting causes that support social sustainability. Despite the means, the key is to create a positive impact that is larger than the potential harm done.

Both direct and indirect effects are important to take into consideration and for this reason, it is crucial to pay attention to the relationship a company has with its stakeholders. Social sustainability takes into account the effect the company’s actions have towards its own employers and other people in the different parts of the value chain, as well as the surrounding society and local communities. Respecting human rights is a key thing in social sustainability.

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