Integrating sustainability into daily business is arguably the most vital pressures facing business in the 21st century. This is caused by externalities , global pressures even internal pressures from stakeholders that influence such a move which we will delve deeper in our next articles.
Despite awareness among the business sector on the importance of incorporating sustainability practices in their day to day operations, there is considerable resistance, and debate about the types of contribution businesses should make towards achieving sustainability as there is no clear pathway of how to integrate these principles into business practice. Recently in a discussion with an executive a question was posed, “why should I integrate sustainability into my business we are doing just fine as for me this is not a priority as far as my business is concerned”.
This is not a surprising response as many companies believe that some form of business case is needed in order to demonstrate how the principles of sustainability support overall business performance. It is important for executives to understand that they need to look beyond the current market conditions and always not possible to demonstrate cause and effect in standard business terms especially using the traditional forms of business evaluation.
A business case for sustainability involves both financial and non-financial measurement and it can be built on cost reduction achieved through improved environmental, health and safety performance (less accidents, less fines, fewer lost workdays, etc.); Revenue increases achieved through gain in market share due to new environmentally sound products among other examples. There is nevertheless some evidence pointing towards a link between high standards of practice in ethical, environmental and social dimensions and overall business performance.