Integrating societal concerns around sustainability into business thinking is not only possible, but it is also imperative. Effective business models require organizational, social, and technological elements. Social and organizational elements can often be delivered at little or no cost, however, technological elements typically require capital investments. Capital constrained organizations often have a short-term and valuation problem when it comes to developing more sustainable business models (Winston 2014, 82). Valuation problems arise from the complexity and difficulty of converting qualitative information into quantitative economic value, however, disruptive strategies that employ clean technologies that aim to solve large populations’ unmet needs and equity issues can deliver future internal and external value that ensures a corporation continues to provide value in the long-term as well as the short-term. In addition, these activities will increase trust and transparency through integrating stakeholder views (Hart 2010, 88). In this way, integrating societal concerns around sustainability into business thinking is vital to the continued success of businesses in a global landscape where risks are increasing, and public sentiment is becoming more vital to the longevity and success of a business.
A Divided Topic?
Unfortunately, sustainability has become a weaponized topic used to divide the country like many other topics. It is easy for different groups to make the topic black and white to push their agendas. The finger is often pointed at consumers, businesses, or governments claiming that they are to blame. However, sustainability issues are global and much larger than one group, nation, or type of people. The global issues humans are facing, as seen in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, will require private and public sectors to work together on these issues including educational and consumer sectors. These issues should be seen with an all-hands on deck priority focus because their impacts will ripple through all elements of society if strong progress is not made.
Figure 1. The Climate Change Blame Game
Source: (Garbage_Warrior 2021).
To solve these large global challenges, a shift in mentality will be needed by all people. Consumers will need to shift their consumption demands and increase their dialogue with governments. Businesses will need to be innovative and incorporate more stakeholder feedback, and governments will need to remove roadblocks and incentivize that innovation while utilizing more community engagement. Strategic thinking that involves efforts to provide for the needs of the increasing number of people in the base of the pyramid will be necessary (Hart 2010, 274-277). Poverty and environmental degradation are the two largest issues that need to be focused on. Incorporating stakeholder voices in solving these problems will be critical to developing cost-efficient and effective solutions (Hart 2010, 282). The next few decades will be a critical period that determines whether humans will work together to make progress on these issues or if the divided global populations will fail to protect the life and environment that makes this planet so special and unique in the universe.
Author: Logan Callen
Garbage_Warrior. 2021. “What Can We Do To End This Toxic Blame (Re)Cycling?” Reddit. August. Accessed November 6, 2021. https://www.reddit.com/r/sustainability/comments/p6qn1h/what_can_we_do_to_end_this_toxic_blame_recycling/.
Hart, Stuart L. 2010. Capitalism at the Crossroads. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Winston, Andrew S. 2014. The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.