7 Overarching Objectives of Sustainability

English: Cover for Sustainable Business Booklet.

Companies pursue Sustainable Business Development (SBD) for a variety of objectives, primarily because the businesses have come to realize that there is value associated with adopting Sustainability principles.

Once the companies start thinking along the stakeholder value dimension along with the shareholder value, the need for sustainability will emerge making it self so evident that building a sustainable business would be a core strategic issue rather than an exclusive domain, which still seems to be the prevalent view of  many companies around.

However, businesses do want to adapt to a more sustainable business model, but many still are not sure where to begin mapping their footprint.

Different industries have different objectives to warrant a SBD.

For example, proper labor conditions might be one of the top priorities for a garment manufacturer like Gap, but eliminating formaldehyde and using water based solvents might be the top sustainability strategy for a furniture manufacturer like Steelcase or reducing packaging material or switching to renewable energy might be the top agenda for yet another industry sector.

So, here are 7 Overarching Objectives covering a wide umbrella of sustainable development initiatives:

  • Companies would want to view themselves as an innovator and a leader in their category. For example, Method relies on its innovations to drive the market forward, thus creating a cult-like following of their brand.
  • A $150 billion multinational behemoth like GE would want to be seen as a responsible corporate citizen bringing a change in the society. And through their ‘Ecomagination’ program GE has has taken real action steps to that goal.
  • Some companies simply see SBD as a way to reduce costs and associated risks, improve efficiency, and increase the bottom and the top line.
  • Total asset utilization and the resulting increased productivity is another area where companies are increasingly making investments.
  • Increased shift in the consumer and the market behavior is forcing companies to being a sustainable business.
  • Adapting to SBD will be a major differentiator – in product offerings and reputation, thus putting those businesses beyond competition.
  • Companies can proactively act and implement preemptive strategies before they’re forced to comply legally. Instead, businesses have the opportunity to frame the policy work in aid with the government

Balanced solutions, as David L. Rainey talks about in his book Sustainable Business Development, is what corporations must build into every product and service, every process and every operation that allows them to solve the most pressing problems. What other overarching objectives do you feel are important for a Sustainable Business Development? Please share your thoughts below.

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