Why Sustainability In Business Requires A Holistic Approach

Sustainability is something of a buzzword these days, but there’s a good reason for that: it has true benefits in many areas of business. Sustainability also means many things in different contexts – whether it’s talking about the environment or the longevity of a business, making sustainable choices is all about planning for the future but acting in the now, and being proactive rather than reactive.

To be truly sustainable, businesses need to take a holistic approach. Here are some of the ways leaders should be looking at making their businesses more sustainable:

Sustainability leadership

To ensure that sustainability is a business focus, leaders must be fully bought into sustainability as a system of values. With leadership development that helps leaders view every decision through the lens of sustainability and long-term planning, and consistent public communication about the organization’s values, executives can be true leaders in the sustainability stakes.

Generational sustainability

How sustainable is your leadership pipeline? Many leaders are so focused on the immediate future that they aren’t allocating sufficient resources to scouting, nurturing and developing the leaders of tomorrow. Where are the talent pools? Are they within your organization or outside it? What are the motivational drivers that spell success within your organization? What are your succession plans?

You need to be able to answer all of these questions and have an integrated plan for developing youth as future world leaders.

Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability within the business is all about creating good habits and systems, which build up over time to become a culture. For example, going paper free or creating a program that allows your staff to volunteer their skills or time to environmental organizations and other corporate social responsibility initiatives: these are great ideas, but require implementation and follow-up to be effective.

Human resources sustainability

Finally, sustainability also needs to be part of your workforce strategy. That means ensuring that your employees are healthy, supported in their professional development and not overworked, to ensure strong retention rates. Communicate with your staff to find out what their needs and priorities are and try to offer them the things they need to do their job to the best of their abilities. This may be flex time or home working, subsidies for childcare or a gym membership – but you won’t know unless you ask.

Sustainability requires a champion within the organization to ensure that it’s thoroughly integrated into its operating rhythms. Do you have one in your organisation? If not you, then who?