It’s Time to Forget the Three Pillars of Sustainability…
Sustainability is an abstract noun. Who really cares about abstract nouns? Let’s be honest – we get passionate about real things – our families, our careers, our friends, our leisure activities, the natural world and, yes, our possessions – but not abstract nouns. And certainly not one that has over 100 definitions.
The organisation we work for is a real thing. It has employees, assets, suppliers, and customers. It gives us a social structure, identity, status, a sense of purpose, job satisfaction (hopefully) and material well being. It is real, not abstract, something that means something to us.
And those same three pillars form the bedrock upon which our businesses are built:
- Environment: all the raw materials, food, energy, water we need to function and the eco-system services (climate stability, flood defence, land, fresh air) we depend on to exist.
- Society: our colleagues, customers, local communities, along with the civil structures we rely on.
- The economy: our suppliers, customers, partners, and the tax and regulatory framework we operate in.
So those three pillars are much, much more fundamental to our business than some airy-fairy out-there concept like ‘sustainability.’
And given that vital importance, shouldn’t every business be striving to nurture and strengthen those three pillars, rather than trying to bleed them dry?