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The topic of business sustainability has always been of great interest to me. Sustainable development, as we know, is often presented as an attempt to reconcile three types of factors: economic, social and environmental.
It takes into account the interactions between these factors and how they contribute towards development that is: equitable (sharing of economic resources among the citizenry); viable (compliance with environmental needs); and bearable (socially and humanly acceptable) (Biaye, 2010).
The post-2008 global credit crunch induced an economic downturn that hit the business environment. Companies were challenged with managing the situation as they strived to sustain business competitiveness. The global uncertainties prompted businesses to actively focus on various alternatives to sustain themselves. There was a varied response to this scenario with organisations ranging from being well prepared to being caught by surprise. Some organisations focused exclusively on cost-cutting initiatives with rampant retrenchment, whereas a few organisations executed their meticulously laid out risk management plans.
Drawing from such organisational experiences, an integrated framework for business sustainability is charted out here (See Exhibit below).
Broadly speaking, an individual or a group of individuals with similar mentalities and objectives come together with a vision to start an organisation. Each organisation starts functioning through people, has processes and a purpose, needs capital, delivers products/services; in other words it creates value for its stakeholders. The organisation maintains its products/services, manages the quality and risks and innovates newer products/services when needs be. Organisations then interact with the broader business ecosystem. The key factors affecting the broader business ecosystem may then be analysed by looking into the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal (PESTEL) aspects.
The above key factors, if well managed, often lead to business excellence. Business excellence reduces uncertainty and over a period of time lead to business sustainability Prosperity is a consequence of when people and the planet are taken good care of. The framework provides a structured approach to the readers to organise their thought processes and help them looking into various parameters/factors affecting business sustainability.
[This article is mostly based on the book ‘Succeed or Sink: Business Sustainability Under Globalisation' by Dr. Jayantee Mukherjee Saha et. al, Elsevier publication, 2011].
Leveraging 'People' Power of Sustainability