Three Pillars of Sustainability and Their Relevance in Business

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Sustainability in business has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion among people. Sustainability in business refers to limiting your firm’s negative impact on the planet and its resources. As per The Brundtland report, sustainability is the fulfilment of the current generation’s demands without compromising the potential of future generations to satisfy their own needs. Sustainability is currently a major concern for many commercial organizations all around the world. Because of this, every firm’s website has a section devoted to the company’s efforts to promote sustainable development.

However, this does not imply that the idea of sustainability is new. The phrase “sustainable development” was first used in an IUCN report released in 1980. Afterwards, in the “Brundtland Report”[1] released by UNWED in 1987, the term “sustainable development” was given its official or universally recognized definition. The concept of sustainability in business is built around the three pillars of sustainability, also sometimes known as the triple bottom line.

The three pillars of sustainability provide a solution-oriented approach to solving all complex business issues related to sustainability. This blog will take a detailed look at defining business sustainability and the three pillars of sustainability in the corporate world.

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

In recent years, corporate sustainability has grown in importance for firms. In general, a business adopts sustainable practices by cutting back on the use of finite resources or by identifying substitutes that have less of an impact on the environment.

pillars of sustainability

To fulfil its sustainability goals, A business must strike a balance between its three main pillars of sustainability: financial, social, and environmental. The system cannot be sustained as a whole if one of the pillars is weak. Businesses must approach the sustainability issue holistically, considering all three pillars when making decisions. Let us take a more detailed look at the three pillars of sustainability

  • The Social Pillar:

Human health, environmental justice, education, and resource security all fall under the broad term of social sustainability. For a firm, social sustainability can refer to focusing on company efforts to retain its employees instead of merely focusing on economic priorities. By boosting employee motivation, for instance, expenditures on employee well-being are likely to help the business financially.

The Social Pillar of sustainability concerns how a firm affects and treats its employees and other internal and external stakeholders. A socially responsible company should be concerned for the well-being of its workers. It should establish relationships with both its staff and its stakeholders that go beyond simple economic dealings.

Firms which focus on this pillar of sustainability provide their employees, partners and suppliers with security, individual development, and overall health. A long-term loyal staff can be developed by doing something as easy as recognizing and appreciating your own employees’ efforts.

Social sustainability on a global scale requires firms to know how their supply chain operates. Companies must ensure a safe working environment, fair compensation, and the absence of child labour in their supply chain to be socially sustainable. Poor social sustainability policies can cause a business to lose its reputation and clientele swiftly.

Increased social sustainability has a positive impact on the environment. For instance, promoting healthy eating can improve the environment because people’s dietary decisions can significantly impact both human health and the ecosystem’s health.

  • The Environmental Pillar

Saving or protecting the environment is the main focus of the environmental pillar. It motivates everyone—individuals and organizations—to use natural resources wisely to reduce waste, lessen pollution, and strive toward a variety of efforts for a cleaner, greener planet. Firms should note that including environmental targets in their management goals is integral to their corporate social responsibility[2] (CSR).

Working to protect the environment can also help finances flourish because doing so will save a firm’s money on energy. Similarly, eliminating resource waste will lead to lower spending and more savings. And all of these advantages aren’t just for one person or organization; they will eventually trickle down to others, boosting society.

  • The Economic Pillar

The economic pillar focuses on a company’s earnings, which is its primary measure of success. For an organization to be sustainable, it must turn a profit. Despite this, the other two pillars cannot be prioritized over profit. The economic pillar is not about maximizing profit at any cost. Instead, the economic pillar represents governance, compliance, and risk management. Job creation, profitability etc., are all parts of the economic pillar of sustainability.

It should go without saying that the economic foundation is crucial for operating a business. Because only then would businesses be confident enough to invest in sustainable initiatives.

As part of your efforts to increase your company’s profitability, you’ll also focus on improved resource management, such as choosing energy-saving strategies and minimizing waste, which will protect our environment. Research on the labour market demonstrates that high employment rates benefit both the economy and the social welfare of the populace. Thus, if employment provides individuals with stability, the economic forces that force businesses to require employees and people to require jobs can also promote social sustainability. The economic pillar is a firm’s ability to contribute to economic growth. Simply put, they must encourage the protection of the environment by limiting the risks posed by their production. Recycling and using renewables in production are fundamental aspects of economic sustainability in business development.

Accelerate Your Sustainable Growth with Schneider Electric

At Schneider Electric, sustainability is at the core of our purpose and culture. We help our clients move towards a sustainable future with consistent efforts. We provide sustainability consulting services to improvise your sustainability strategy. We provide a comprehensive sustainability strategy tailored to our client’s requirements. We ensure a sustainable operation and keep your business compliant with all regulations.


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