Sustainability is...

Social sustainability

Social sustainability includes aspects such as basic human rights, labour rights, social responsibility, community development, etc.

  • we need social sustainability in order to provide equality and a good quality of life within communities, particularly communities of the less fortunate
  • the basic notion of sustainability is taking responsibility for the fact that our actions have an impact on others, including the world at large, and also taking future generations into account while doing so, and
  • social sustainability considers the entire worldview in relation to globalisation, communities and culture.

Categories within social sustainability, that companies might see challenges, and implement targeted plans to help mitigate, include:

Corporate philanthropy

This is a company’s way of giving back to its community - local, regional, national or international, through financial donations and non-cash contributions such as time, expertise and tangible goods like computers, medicine, food and textbooks.

Social reporting

The benefits of social reporting include:
- mitigating, or reversing, negative impacts
- improving reputation and brand loyalty
- enabling understanding of the company's true (tangible and intangible) value, and
- demonstrating how the company influences, and is influenced, by expectations about sustainable development.

Industry-specific criteria

Not all companies will fit into one set of criteria. In this section criteria might include: addressing cost burden, bioethics, controversial issues, dilemmas in lending / finance, financial inclusion / capacity building, health outcome contribution, occupational health and safety, stakeholder engagement, standards for suppliers, and / or strategy to improve access to drugs or products.

Labour practices and human capital development

A successful sustainability strategy can drive improvements in multiple human capital areas—both on a macro level, such as human rights and supply chain labour standards, and at the company level through employee recruitment and retention, such as diversity, employee engagement and development.

Talent attraction and retention

Companies must by agile and strategic in their offerings to enable employees to find more personal meaning in and outside of work. This might include flexible schedules, or delivery of benefits (not necessarily in money) and opportunities – whether it be volunteering or leading a corporate recycling programme.

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