Most of us think that the future of business is going to be laden with uncertainty and volatility far more intense than what we have witnessed so far. Thus, the business leaders are weaving agility and flexibility into each of their strategic actions. They want everyone in the organisation to believe in the need for quick adaptation and deliver suitable actions as soon as a new situation emerges. This marks the emergence of a cultural leaning towards quick response in organisations across industry sectors. We could soon see a gradual defocus of activities like long-range thinking and planning. Do CXOs have the bandwidth to review the impact of their actions on the environment and the society? Can they make changes in their execution?
Is sustainability important?
Most countries in the world and many thinkers around the world believe that our environment and climate is getting worse by the day. We could be staring at huge crisis such as shortage of food, increases in natural calamities and many more such events which potentially threaten the existence of humanity. Ironically in many cases, the rich have found it hard to make amends to their ways of life. The good news is that there is an increasing awareness towards pollution control, waste recycling, conserving energy, using renewable sources of energy, using energy-efficient methods, promoting responsible consumption and many such initiatives. The good news is that our youth all over the world are particularly motivated by these ideas.
As our workforce has a high percentage of people in their 20’s and 30’s, organisations must reflect these values in their actions and plans. Our failure to adapt these into our daily life will show us in the light of primitiveness and irresponsibility towards the posterity. In such a case, we cannot draw the best talent towards us and build an image of a good organisation.
What can companies do?
A manufacturing company not only has to go for energy-efficient machinery, tools and equipment but also it has to keep on revamping its methods to make them energy efficient and minimise pollution, promote their suppliers and customers to adopt energy-efficient methods and equipment. They have to show their commitment to sustainability by using mobility by electric vehicles, reduce the use of fossil fuels, optimise consumption, reduce waste, leverage technology to reduce spend of energy and promote energy efficiency in whatever they do. Positive behaviours such as afforestation, environment protection, sharing resources when possible need to be stated policies and put into action.
Companies in the services sector do not have factories to show some of these behaviours. However, they can commit to using renewable energy, spread awareness in their ecosystem, reduce waste, and share resources when they need to consume food, electricity and internet to office stationery, snacks in cafeteria and use of meeting rooms. Often simple things like sharing a ride, travelling on business only when needed and switching off devices when not in use could make our world a better place.
How can we make progress?
We need the leaders to get involved in sustainability practices and lead by example. They need to talk about it openly and recognise behaviours promoting sustainability. Leaders must encourage everyone in their organisation and the community to understand and appreciate the raison d’être of sustainability practices. A good starting point is to discuss this in the management team, frame a policy, communicate the same and appoint someone to drive sustainability practices in the organisation.
Sometimes, the leaders are busy in day to day execution and dealing with the dynamic situations they are faced with. They do not have the bandwidth to commit hours in thinking about the future that seems far away and not in the scheme of things for the day. Corporate social responsibility in these cases remains like a benign appendix which does not impact business results.
One has to recognise this situation if it takes place and has to quickly weave the sustainability practices in the day to day business. The leaders across the board have to realise the potential benefit of making their organisation a brand that cares for the posterity and thinks long term. They need to turn the wheel towards showing responsible and affirmative behaviours required to make our environment better each day.