Is my company sustainable or just responsible?
If the company isn’t sustainable, it will have little chance to survive in the future, claims Adriana Pulido, founder of ILUNKA.
We like believing that the value of “responsibility” is sufficiently wide to be sufficiently sufficient. And that’s good, actually. It’s good that companies are responsible, but let’s talk about what we understand as “responsible” because if there’s something I’ve learned in my almost 20 years as a sustainability, ESG, and social responsibility consultant is that the trick to a good sustainability strategy and generating real change is in the way each company interprets the criteria they must stick to when it comes to this subject.
For example, I’ve seen companies that, in regards to environmental affairs, are fine with just getting their EISs (Environmental Impact Statement) into a government office; others believe that it’s enough to sort trash in their offices; while some others invest material, financial, human, and time resources to measure their carbon footprint. All of them could call themselves “responsible”, but certainly two of them wouldn’t be securing sustainability in the future or the sustainability of their operations, which is the same either way.
If the company isn’t sustainable, it will have little chance to be tenable in the future. A little bit of wordplay here, since there’s a big confusion between the meaning of the words tenable and sustainable. But we’ll leave that for another time…
Anyways, the point is that seen from another angle, taking on the value of responsibility in the management of a company, in the broadest sense of the word, means questioning ourselves what our references and interpretations are regarding what we are supposed to do or not do as an organization.
Understanding that a responsible company not only fulfills what’s required of them from the legal point of view, or doing more than the law requires. It means doing an exercise of context analysis, having a dialogue with our interest groups, mapping traditional and non-traditional risks, promoting resilience, adapting quickly to change and innovation, and then building a business strategy, being very cautious in considering the socio-environmental impacts of the company’s operation. That way, and only that way, will the company secure being tenable, sustainable, and responsible.
It may sound complex, expensive, or arduous, but the truth is that it’s simpler than it looks. In fact, it’s ideal to consider this when the company is barely starting, or in a growing or institutionalization stage, because if you do a business strategy considering sustainability as a pillar that’s perpendicular to the company’s goals, you’ll then have all the tools to stand out from your competitors, to understand your market from a different point of view; you’ll be able to anticipate regulatory changes and prevent risks that some times aren’t obvious on first analysis.
If you’re not doing this at the very least to consider your management responsible, then start preparing for the VUCA environment (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), which won’t allow the survival of companies that don’t pay attention to these matters.
Let’s do something, though. I suggest you go to my previously published article (January 2022) here on Dalia Empower’s information and content platform, and follow those five steps to begin a sustainability strategy in your company. I promise you that this will armor-plate your organization, but more importantly, you will be part of the transformation of our world and of the corporate system in general.
*Author’s note: This article was written using inclusive language; if you noticed, that’s good, and if you didn’t, that’s ok, too. Inclusive language isn’t a grammatical-based discussion, it’s the origin of our mental constructs and that’s where it should be understood from; this is why it should be naturally adopted.