Corporate Sustainability – How is your Business Impacting Society?

Moai, or moꞌai, are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island in eastern Polynesia between the years 1250 and 1500, now there’s a legacy.

I am particularly drawn to the word legacy. On a personal level – what will be my legacy? What do I want to be remembered for – in life, in business?

What was my impact on my peers and colleagues, on customers and friends? How have my values and principles manifested over my lifetime? What footprints will I leave behind?

As business leaders, those that influence the future of the economy and its impact on our immediate society, these questions are equally important.

In a recent Future of Work workshop, we explored this with the attendees asking the question “In relation to your workplace becoming more ‘socially responsible or society centric’ what does that mean to you?”

This raised many interesting questions and comments, one that struck me, in particular, was – “we take responsibility for our impact on society” This statement in itself met each of the five principles that define sustainability.

Sustainable Business Strategy & Principles

Sustainability principles embrace both the social and environmental aspects of sustainability. These are:

  1. Inclusivity
  2. Integrity
  3. Legacy
  4. Stewardship
  5. Transparency

We are responsible as organisations, as employees, as human beings. We all play a role and must make a commitment to address societal and environmental impacts and to be accountable.

Our decision making and ethics are built on these fundamental principles. Let us not forget, we are still employers and businesses and need to drive value but there will be new metrics – not just shareholder value, revenue growth, but value for all stakeholders in our value chain.

It is, of course, acceptable to generate economic prosperity, as this enables us to have viable and secure businesses and provide employment. However, in our decision making and strategies, we need to consider the environmental and social equity.

We are no longer isolated, operating independently in our own bubble. We form part of an interconnected whole – an ecosystem. What is our first order thinking? If I do this what will the immediate outcome be? This is second-order thinking.

It forms the basis of Systems Thinking and Design Strategy. These need to become our mindset and toolkit as we look to design the solutions that matter and as we take responsibility for our impact on society.

In the immediate term, with COVID changing how we live, make, consume and engage a new program for Government in Ireland and beyond is needed. Is there a new dawn?

Will we grasp this opportunity and truly embrace sustainability for real long term change? Or are we doomed to repeat the sins of those before us? Will we go back as the world goes forward?

We are all learning and adapting. Some are more advanced than others. How do we learn? Who is leading the way and creating the best sustainable strategies and practices? Are you? Is your organisation?

These are all really important questions to consider as we move forward as organisations, employees and as human beings.

Responsible Business – Learnings & Recommendations from Sustainability Leaders Webinar

Cpl’s Future of Work Institute invites you to join the next webinar in our Perspectives During Times of Change series on June 25th on the topic of Responsible Business – Learnings & Recommendations from Sustainability Leaders.

In this webinar, we’ll be joined by leaders and practitioners in the world of sustainability. We will look at how they balance strong financial performance with responsible sustainability practices and ways your business can become more socially responsible.

We will also look at the impact COVID has and will have on environmental issues and sustainability performance. To register for the webinar click here.