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A few days ago, we asked the question “What is Sustainability in Business?

Now, we are looking at social sustainability and what role businesses play in achieving social sustainability.

Social sustainability, by definition, is the ability for a community of people to all continue living peaceful, healthy and prosperous lives for years into the future.

The most immediate impact businesses can make when it comes to social sustainability is within the organisation itself. Ensuring the workplace is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination is the first way in which businesses can act responsibly in society. Gender equality and racial diversity are high on the list of priorities for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to providing equal opportunities for all.

Staff well-being can also be influenced by the company. Instead of having a vending machine with candy bars and foods high in salt and saturated fats, businesses can look at healthy alternatives for staff who feel those mid-afternoon cravings. Instead of team drinks for a team-building event, a business might organise a team hike or even a team volunteering day to promote health and well-being. There is, of course, an economic return to this as staff who are healthier will be able to perform with greater efficiency and through employing a higher level of critical thinking than unhealthy employees.

Opportunities for staff to grow and develop are essential to not only ensuring the sustainability of society but also the sustainability of the company.

Businesses also have a responsibility to the society in which they conduct business. Participating in the community through sponsoring local community events or groups is a great way for businesses to engage with people in the immediate area as well as promote their brand and their values.

Lastly, the supply chain is an incredibly important part of social responsibility for businesses. Ensuring that the companies from which you purchase goods and services are also engaged in social sustainability practices counts towards a commitment to responsible business. Every dollar spent on social responsibility is a vote for other businesses to follow your lead and practice sustainability within their organisation.

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.

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