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The first thing that comes to mind when I think of sustainability is environmentalism and that we should seek to make sure, there are enough resources for future generations. We should maintain the environment and try to reduce our impact.
In business, I believe that sustainability is ensuring the long-term survival of the business through effective use of resource management in both financial and human capital. Using research and development to increase efficiencies and use new renewable materials. Ensuring that they have the resources they need by maintaining strong relationships with both supplier and customer.
It is in the best interests of organizations to think sustainably. Limited resources can increasingly be more expensive therefore, an organization needs to keep a watchful eye on their use and look for alternatives. This leads them to also think outside their local and think global, as there may be better global suppliers or new more sustainable offerings.
Part of sustainability is being in touch with the community as the environment is always changing. An organization must always monitor competition, changing customer needs and new opportunities.
As greater environmental concern grows with younger generations, I believe that the future direction of corporate sustainability movement will continue to grow to the point that sustainability will not be optional. In order to fulfill their own sustainability requirements, organizations will require their partners and suppliers to follow sustainability. This will raise the bar of sustainability quality across the board.
With organizations like GRI providing a global standard for sustainability reporting requirements it will be easier for organization to understand how and what they should report.
The role of corporate leadership in realizing this future is what we expect for any intuitive. Leadership must fully support it. They will need to prove this by creating the vision for the organization to follow. The vision must inspire. They will need to develop realistic goals that they can measure and report on.
I believe that the two biggest players in sustainability are government and consumers. Corporations indeed have a role to play as they have the ability to research and develop new technologies to solve issues but I believe it is the consumer that drive these changes. Corporations can lead the market but if the consumer is not ready to accept new ideas they will fail. Consumers are the ones that vote for corporations, and technologies by buying products and services. Consumers are also the ones that elect their government who both creates new regulations and enforces them upon corporations.
The truth is that all three groups influence each other. Corporations hire lobbyists to influence politician’s decisions which impact regulations. Corporations can also choose to lead the way by enforcing higher standards on themselves.
The government has the ultimate power but they serve the people (consumers). They create the regulations and enforce them. Government is usually slow to react and is behind especially with laws and regulations concerning new technology.
Government and corporations often work together to regulate industries. The leaders of industry usually end up being on regulatory boards that define the limits corporations must meet in order to be considered meeting environmental standards.
It is important that the investors believe in the company and its management. Shareholders react to gossip, news and rumors. If they feel that a company is being mismanaged or trying a new strategy far outside the element of the company’s core business shareholders will run fast. This means selling the company’s stock.
Investors themselves may be interested in companies that work towards sustainability. Any effort to work towards sustainability can be seen very positively to potential investors. It may draw in more investments increasing the share price.
Even though the stock price is not really the best indicator of the company’s value especially in the short term the company must monitor the stock price with any news released that may appear negative.