What is a Sustainable Business?

Corporate sustainability or responsibility is nowadays often discussed. This term means voluntary integration of social as well as environmental aspects into everyday company’s activities and interactions with company’s stakeholders. It means to do responsibly its core business (business which is at the core of everything a company is doing), in the relation to environment, local communities, customers, employees and other interested parties. By core business, the company has the biggest impact on its surroundings.

It is the way companies behave and it should be connected to their values and strategy (where they go and how). Responsibility should be incorporated in the organisation’s DNA to be able to manage everything (including strategic decisions) according to the ethical standards or rules and with focus on the welfare of all the interested groups (stakeholders).

To behave responsibly, a company needs to look at all activities and related processes and analysed impact of each of them on environment as well as communities, customers, employees etc. By doing so, they will find out if any harm is caused. If so, this is the first to be solved out – try to mitigate the harm up to the time there is no harm caused. In case it is not possible not to cause any harm (e.g. CO2 emmissions cannot be lowered further), steps and actions of positive impact should be undertaken to make the company’s impact minimum neutral (or even positive).

If no harm is caused by a company, responsibility or sustainability of the company can be increased by „doing good“ – by products, services bringing a positive change (e.g. a new technology to lower down CO2 emissions, improving recycling technologies etc.).

When all aspects of core business are already taken into account, helping others come into play, in the form of expertise volunteering (multiplying effect of sharing know–how with NGOs or foundations to make their work more efficient – which can then use it further and build on it, making their activities more efficient). Nevertheless, also volunteering activities should be preferably connected to the core business of the company as it is closely connected with sustainability: it is more sustainable to focus on activities and projects related to the activities which make money to company as it is the most vital thing for that company.

In other words, philanthropy (support of projects of NGOs and other subjects) is only „a cherry on a cake“, something extra (nice-to-have) how to support surrounding. Nevertheless, the most important is day-to-day functioning/ behavior of companies being responsible and sustainable in the long-term.

Shortly, CR is to behave responsibly, as a good citizen (parent or friend… – even in a corporate environment), using common sense.

Read more also in this article from The Guardian.