What is a sustainable business?
Natalie: ‘Sustainable’ was coined as an environmental term — but it’s broader than that now. So, a sustainable business isn’t one that has a sustainability strategy or considers itself a ‘green business’. Instead, it’s a business that balances purpose and profit, which means it actively tries to do the best for its customers, its staff, its community and the environment.
Hannah: Before it makes any decision, a sustainable business asks what the impact will be on its customers, staff, the community and planet. More companies are realising that their customers and staff care about sustainability and they can’t afford to ignore it anymore. Once, businesses struggled to balance profitability and sustainability. Now they realise they can’t continue to be profitable without being sustainable.
Has the pandemic had an impact on a company’s ability to build a sustainable culture?
Natalie: Our clients have had to deal with real difficulties over the past year, but in doing so they’ve been forced to look at their environment through new eyes and bring their people with them. They’ve redefined what kind of organisation they are to work with, whether that’s their employee value proposition or sustaining their reduction in carbon emissions.
The pandemic has also made businesses consider their employees’ needs from a well-being perspective, so they can be their best selves at work. That’s at the heart of building a sustainable culture.
Hannah: Organisations have seen how quickly they can change when there is a burning platform to do so. For example, we’ve been working very closely with a client who we’ve never actually met face-to-face. That’s unusual for us because we’d normally be based on-site with them all day, every day. Remote working and contact via video conference call has created a better, more sustainable way of working for us and our people — but also for the client because their teams are dispersed across the country.
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