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The term sustainability was first mentioned in the Brundtland Commission Report in 1987. Since then, the meaning of the concept has changed, as well as the understanding of organizations and people about sustainability.
Most authors mention that sustainability is about the future, preserving nature and resources for future generations. Sustainability is a continuous process, development that must meet the needs of consumers, communities and businesses, while conserving resources and ensuring future well-being for generations.
Contribution of businesses to sustainability
Every business can contribute to a more sustainable future, because the perception of sustainability in business is very broad. Small business representatives often think that their contribution to sustainability is not significant because their businesses do not create a large part of the GDP, but this approach is not correct.
The sustainability concept is effectively implemented when it becomes the value basis of all businesses.
Businesses can contribute to sustainability in a number of ways, such as: identify the negative impact of my business on the environment and to look for alternative solutions, start to use all resources more rationally, create favorable conditions for employees, develop partnership relations with the community.
It is appropriate to start with changing daily habits, with the simplest solutions that do not require investment, and then move on to changing the use of energy or raw materials.
Benefits of sustainable business
A sustainable business follows the triple bottom line, a term coined in 1994 by John Elkington. The three components of the triple bottom line are profits, people, and the planet.
There are few reasons why businesses are embracing sustainability. Companies aim to increase financial performance, to strengthen the resilience of the company, to improve social responsibility, to maintain customer trust, to realize value orientations, and to stay competitive.
Sustainability helps to make the business better and long-term value oriented. Sustainability helps by attracting new customers, creating a positive image in society, and new markets are opened for a company more easily, too.
Challenges of sustainability
A sustainable manager pays a lot of attention to value content and works on value creation through sustainability. A sustainable manager has to identify the business potential in transition to sustainability and turn it into a way of thinking, not only of his own, but also of the entire company’s employees, to make it a key business philosophy.
When starting to implement the principles of sustainability, businesses may face challenges. A sustainable business may require additional investment at the beginning. In the conditions of an unstable business environment, this can lead to doubts as to whether the invested funds will pay off.