What are sustainable business practices?
Sustainable business practices are internal & external methods for companies to reduce their environmental impact, but still succeed & make profit.
When we talk about climate change, we often resort to committing to make personal changes to reduce our impact.
We tend to forget that the biggest contributors of carbon emissions are businesses, so how can personal sacrifices make any impact when businesses carry on the same road?
What if Earth were a business?
I once heard a concept that went along the lines of “Earth is simply an experiment run by another far more advanced civilization” & I find the concept helps to get perspective potential resolution of global issues.
Put another way, if the Earth were a business, & we were the CEO – what would our business plan, reports, summaries, & forecasts look like?
Would we be fired on the spot, or highly commended?
What, as a collective species, when we summarize all the positives & negatives is the real balance?
In a business setting I’m pretty sure we all get where this leads, but when viewed in the context of the Global Climate Crisis, where does the buck stop?
Pass the Buck
shift the responsibility for something to someone else.
"Elected political leaders cannot pass the buck for crisis decisions to any alternative source of authority"
Looking at the definition above, that means that the biggest contributors to C02 emissions & other environmental / social issues know already that they are at fault but will not / cannot do anything about it.
So, given that on the day we were born, we were all given an equal stake holding in Planet Earth Ltd, we all get an equal say in how it gets run, right?
Interestingly, the population & therefore environmental impact caused us is increasing by the second – have a look at some of the counters here if you really want to scare yourself!
Obviously, I’m simplifying things.
The sheer complexity of the task ahead faced by all of us on how to come up with one global standard of sustainable business practices for all of us to compare, monitor, & manage the environmental impact we are having, positively or negatively, is enormous at best.
A great article on this, which underlines the new movement towards open collaboration as a business advantage is the recently published report by Robert G Eccles & Bhakti Mirchandani on Universal ESG Accounting Standards.
However, simplification is exactly what is required, for several key reasons:
- This difference with the issue of Climate Change is that we all face it, equally together, whether we like it or not.
- The fact that whilst Climate Change affects everyone, it has a far greater potential impact on our younger generations & their future, turns this into an incredibly important quest for many people. Myself included.
So, this is the biggest undertaking we all will face & every one of us can make a difference.
Whilst I fully agree ‘One Global Strategy’ is what we all need to hold business practices to account, I fear the standards outlined in Eccles & Mirchandani’s HBR study will inevitably take time to truly take effect.
In the meantime, & for the rest of us that want to do something now, the key message is this:
The more collaborative, transparent, & supportive of the surrounding economical & physical environment the organizations you both buy from & work for truly are, the more customers, business, & investment will be generated in a way that positively impacts the planet.
Circling back to the ‘Superior beings running the Earth as an experiment’ theory, I can imagine them watching on & laughing, saying – don’t they get it? It’s so simple…
Yet for us Humans, it’s the hardest thing of all to do.
At the same time, more & more companies are waking up to the fact that, what this also means is, that doing nothing is not an option.
Whilst writing this, I’m reminded of a memory from a few days ago, where I saw a van drive through our village – the driver wound down his window & launched his lunch rubbish out of the window onto the pavement without thinking twice, as if this was the most normal thing in the world to him.
However, if the van he was driving Electric, does that make him Carbon Positive / Neutral (i.e. on balance & all things considered, OK).
Doing something to hide the other, less positive stuff your business might also do, is also not enough either.
On reading “The World Counts” I came across this sentence, which says it all:
The human population is dependent on the Earth's ecosystems to survive. But the relationship between man & nature has been thrown out of balance - quite a lot actually.
Humanity now exceeds ecosystems’ capacity to support our way of life by 75 percent. Such a situation cannot go on. The world population is basically “taking a loan in nature” - a loan that future generations will have to repay.
Of course, It is not simply the number of people that determines the impact of the planet. It is how much we consume & how much waste we produce.
It still baffles me, that in 2022, after everything we all now know, that there are still people that think that this is someone else’s problem.
When you apply that to large countries that are major contributors to the issues, it’s hard to wonder if all of this is futile.
But then I hear my children’s voices in the house & realize once again that this isn’t about me.
For anyone wanting to really help, let’s make sure you really get this – & then let’s work together for a brighter future.
In future articles I’ll be delving much further into specific sustainable business practice, ESG, & Digital Procurement related topics.
I’ll explore the cutting edge of technology & software development & discuss the latest thinking on diversity, equality, & inclusion whilst attracting new & talented people into our industry, alongside more thought led, ‘stake in the ground’ type articles like this one.