A quick fix
"We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others are bright, some have weird names, but we have to learn to live in the same box." -Anonymous
Sustainability has been described as a continuous improvement process that challenges businesses to balance business expectations as well as the changing expectations of the external environment. It is often demonstrated by raised eco awareness, innovation, technology advancement, risk management, and proactive change. In each case, the common thread of collaboration can be seen through all of these actions.
In pursuing sustainability, by definition, we are aware of the dynamic relationship with the people and environment in which we live out their daily lives. Whether incorporating sustainability concepts into everyday living or creating a sustainability plan for a business, the ability to effectively engage the outside world in the process is critical to success.
"Sustainability helps build a new level of partnerships not just based on product development but based on sharing knowledge and expertise in order to accelerate transformation." -Director of Sustainability at AkzoNobel.
The People Management post, Firms Face Talent Management Challenge in Emerging Markets, discusses that challenges with operating in an increasingly global marketplace. Citing the results from an Ernst & Young survey, the article explains that only 20 percent of today’s organizations believe they effectively manage their talent across all markets. Some of the key issues defined included: cultural differences, difficulties balancing local and global talent, trouble with retention and a lack of a leadership pipeline.
The reality of today's business landscape causes many executives to focus on the ‘quick fix’ that will bridge the obstacles faced in the moment, with a simple goal to get back to business as usual, rather than addressing larger needs: as mitigating turnover risk, managing the talent supply, and pairing sustainability and CSR efforts to create meaningful work.
In these cases, business sustainability actions show up as a fix rather than a change or part of the company's overall business culture reform. One solution is to adopt a broader definition of sustainability that is not exclusively regarded as environmental action, but instead incorporates an expanded definition applicable to all parts of the organization. By opening the doors to the concept of a sustainable business culture, companies can address a variety of concerns: specifically internal communications and resource engagement.
Thinking of sustainability as a boundless opportunity opens the door to actions beyond what have already been implemented. This allows an organization and its stakeholders to step beyond traditional roles to bring forward new ideas and create a business sustainability culture. Through collaborative stakeholder engagement, a company can promote engagement, create alignment, and ensure the most effective results.
Julie Urlaub is the founder and managing partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability social media consulting firm, where she aids clients to powerfully engage in sustainability-related issues and stakeholder communications in the social space. She can be contacted at www.taigacompany.com | @taigacompany | Facebook/TaigaCompany