Sustainability and your business

This month we’ll be doing a VILT program on organizational sustainability. What is sustainability? Just an overused buzz word? What’s it mean? What’s it mean to me? Why should I even care?

You should care because the concept is one which makes the world go around. Sustainability relates to the interconnectedness of your business, your financial status, the community within which you operate (local all the way to global), and the environment. Without each of these components your business is not likely to last for the long haul.

Sustainability also relates to your ability to stay in business when events beyond your control happen. Will your business be financially secure enough to recover from a devastating fire, flood, or hurricane? Will you be able to adapt to a changing market or technology? What will happen if your customer base is suddenly depleted because a large local employer shuts down? Sustainability can mean the difference between going out of business if one of these events occurs and staying in business. More often it means the difference between just surviving and actually thriving.

Can you survive in the short term without concern for sustainability? Honestly, yes, you can. However if short term goals are your only objective you’re not likely reading this right now. Being concerned about your organization’s sustainability can lead to less work stress, better financial positioning, stronger customer relationships, lowered expenses, and a business worth more one the day you choose to sell it.

When speaking of sustainability you often hear of the “three legged stool of sustainability”. These three legs are:

  • Financial Sustainability
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Over the next few postings I’ll describe each of these “legs”, what they mean to you, what you can do to oversee them, and how they are connected to your overall business operation.

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