What is Meant By Sustainability Management?
‘Resources are finite’ sustainability operates on this assumption. The impact of business activities on society, economy and environment cannot be overlooked. Sustainability Management is an integration of the concepts of both sustainability and management. People, planet and profit are three parameters on which companies focus in order to become successful in future.
If a firm wants to sustain for the long term, then it must practice sustainability through adopting the ways of sustainable management. This is a preventive method that ensures the overall growth of a company.
Various industries such as agriculture, insurance, automobile, healthcare, and many others are incorporating sustainability management in their working. Right from top-notch companies like GE, Kohl’s Corporation and Land’s End to many local organisations, everyone is pursuing sustainable management.
Different practices followed under sustainability management may include investment in fair-trade products, improvement in human working conditions and reduction of packaging materials. Sustainability management requires proper planning. It takes time to analyse and implement the strategies. To get great results, skilled professionals are needed by businesses.
History of Sustainability Management
No change is adapted overnight. There has been a series of incidents that resulted in the requirement of sustainability management. Let’s have a look at the history of sustainable ways:
How there was a need for sustainability management and what changes took place?
Due to advancement in technology, increase in waste production and rapid increase in pollution, our planet earth experienced various changes and disasters. Not only nature but human well-being was also affected by human activities. In the past, many nature distorting incidents took place such as the nuclear power accident of Chernobyl, Oil spill at Deepwater Horizon and Union Cyanide gas leak.
Both humans and wildlife were hugely affected by these disasters. After looking at the consequences of human activities, there was a need for sustainability management for businesses.
Earlier there were no regulations related to human and labour welfare. After the implementation of sustainable management, companies ensure good working conditions, employment rate and easy exit policies.
Before the concept of sustainability was introduced, the businesses were focused on profits. By overlooking their social and environmental responsibility, they did not understand the long-term disadvantages. Today to maintain long-term viability, corporate management is trying to amalgamate both business strategies and sustainable management ideas.
Responsibilities of Sustainable Managers
Sustainable managers are professionals that are responsible for creating sustainability strategies for companies. Their vision, implemented changes and long-term thinking guides a company to the path of growth. These managers can come from different backgrounds such as economics, environmental science, etc.
In various firms, different titles can be given to sustainable managers such as:
- Chief Sustainability Officer.
- Head of Sustainability.
- Global Director of Social and Environmental Affairs.
- Environmental Program Manager.
- VP of Corporate Responsibility.
The roles and responsibilities of sustainable managers may differ as per the size and requirements.
Let’s have a look at their tasks:
- They make sure that the organisation is complying with environmental regulations.
- They are responsible for setting performance goals.
- Sustainable managers build awareness in the company about the sustainability programs.
- Right from proposing the sustainability initiatives to measuring and reporting the effectiveness, they manage it all.
- A sustainable management manager leads a team and ensures the achievement of goals.
- The manager must have the ability to make difficult decisions.
Steps followed by Sustainability Managers
1. Goal Setting
Sustainability manager tries to set a goal that is actionable and measurable. It is not possible to get the desired results if the goal is unrealistic and without any deadlines. With measurable goals, a manager can lead a team in a specific direction to achieve the goal.
Examples of sustainability goals can be a reduction in carbon footprint. Yes, this goal can be achieved by proper strategic planning and implementation.
2. Using Different Tools
There are different tools available that can be used to get data and solutions. Right from profit and ROI to data related to society and environment can also be collected with these tools. When it comes to the social dimension, unemployment rate and median household income can be calculated. Measurements related to the environment may include fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emission.
3. Learning Continuously
Sustainability managers have great knowledge in different fields and industries but while executing their planning, they may face difficulties. In such scenarios, they have to make tough decisions and analyse the loopholes and correct them for the future.
It is very important to analyse the results at each step as in this way certain changes can be implemented at an early stage that can be helpful in fulfilling the goal.
Advantages of Becoming a Sustainability Business
1. Increased Brand Awareness
When a company is mindful about its activities and impact on the environment and society, the consumers are more likely to associate themselves with such a company. The purchasing behaviour is influenced through sustainable management initiatives taken by a company.
2. Increased Competitive Advantage
Companies that support fair trade and labour practices, promote health and safety, and manufacture energy-efficient products would surely have a competitive edge over other companies.
3. Increased Productivity
When a company considers sustainability as a part of its business planning, then the operational efficiency increases. Conservation and better use of resources ultimately result in a reduction in costs.
4. Carbon Risk is minimized
When a business is determined to go green, the carbon output reduces and energy efficiency increases.
5. More Financial Opportunities
Companies that are more responsible in sustainable management terms and utilize the resources properly can get more investment and financial opportunities.
6. Increase in Employee Retention
Businesses that ensure employee welfare have a high retention rate. The companies that actively participate in social and corporate environmental programs are preferred by everyone. Hence, the recruitment process also becomes easy.
Sustainability management in companies has resulted in an overall improvement in different aspects like environment, society and economy. Companies are following these practices and complying with the regulations to grow in long term.
Sustainability management is essential as it also influences consumer purchasing decisions and builds trust among stakeholders.
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