Friday, April 19, 2024

Sustainability as a critical element for businesses


Sustainability is an umbrella term that encompasses all of an organization’s efforts to be a responsible steward and includes the three specific pillars of environmental, social and governance that are measurable and relevant but a business and its circumstances. 

Sustainability is more important than ever especially after the era of coronavirus which tested the health, social and economic systems in extreme ways.

In the past, sustainability was more a buzz word that was thrown about in marketing and public relation discussions. Businesses would never track issues surrounding the environment and social issues as they were not seen as contributors to business growth associated with KPIs such as revenue generation, employee’s retention, risk management and attractiveness to investments. Sustainability was not viewed as an imperative for a business adaptability and growth.

It is now that ever clearer that sustainability is a tool for maintaining resiliency to the business and the society in the long-term. Sustainability programs are key components for long-term value creation and business resiliency.

Environmental sustainability is associated with clear ideas such as having regards for environmental conservation and preservation and ensuring that the business can create a positive impact through initiatives such as ensuring reduction in carbon footprint, re-evaluation of energy usage and introduction of renewable energy in the business operations, pollution control, waste management and other natural resource conservation.

On the social aspect, it is about the firm’s relationship with the employees, suppliers and community. Business will create a social change is through provision of a healthy workplace, enforcement of equitable pay structure, having a proper employee engagement, embracing diversity and inclusion as well as having contributions to communities.

Governance issues revolves around the corporate transparency which is focused on ensuring ethical business practices and partnerships which governs the daily business operations.

Sustainability programs will help a business to focus on addressing and managing the issues that are most material to the business, that best capture the business impacts on society and that are of highest importance to business’s internal and external stakeholders.

Sustainability strategies will also help in the promotion of transparency, trust and helping businesses to understand stakeholders’ priorities and concerns. This helps to create an engagement and effective communication with the stakeholders and earning the business the social license to operate. This helps to transparently communicate to the stakeholders how the business is addressing the needs of the society while conveying the firms’ commitment to its values and its relationship with the stakeholders in both the good and challenging times

The culture of trust and transparency is a key building block for sustainability.  It is critical to making sure that employees, suppliers and other stakeholders stay committed to the mission and vision of the business. Investors too are keen to investing in companies that embraces and respects their environmental and social capital.

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungai
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via

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