Huh? What the @$%* is Impact Sustainability?
It is what all sustainability should be – impactful. Impacting positively on society, business, and the environment; on all three dimensions.
Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Too often it ends up focused on one dimension, often at the expense of the others. Too focused on social impact with a resulting business cost instead of business value. Too focused on business impact with social impact limited to self-serving hype.
Impact sustainability isn’t easy. It takes focus and strategy, and constant management. It requires more than simply balancing social, business and environmental dimensions. True impact sustainability means you find and develop those areas of synergy where creating value in one dimension supports and creates value in another.
It is finding the strategies and approaches where creating social value drives business value at the same time, where improving environmental efficiency improves business viability. Those are the spots where true impact sustainability happens.
For example, I run Baraka Shea Butter, a business that produces shea butter in northern Ghana, exports it to Canada and markets it throughout North America and around the world. We work hard to ensure that we have strong positive impacts on the women, families and communities we work with.
We pay above market price for the shea butter the women produce, above market for wages, we develop and implement education, youth, environment and development projects. All of this adds cost. Yet, it also adds business value.
We recognize that these social value-adding activities can if used strategically, be very effective for communication, branding, and marketing. They have helped create a brand, customer loyalty and a competitive advantage that gives us a business return on the social and environmental costs we take on. Creating more social value and better environmental stewardship pays off for our business. And, it makes our business more fun and fulfilling.
But, don’t think these things just happen, or that Baraka is a unique business. The reality is that Impact Sustainability, this synergy between business value, social value and environmental stewardship is achievable in most businesses. I have personally consulted with businesses of all types all over the world and have consistently helped them to find that synergy, that alignment of their business interests with social/community impact and environmental stewardship.
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When businesses and leaders understand the concept and have the tools and frameworks to develop and implement the strategies and tactics that create supporting value propositions Impact Sustainability is almost certain to happen.
It is important to understand how to identify opportunities and to use areas such as these to drive value integration and synergy:
- CSR Reporting & Communications
- Impact Measurement
- SDG and Sustainability Partnerships
- SDG Engagement
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Sustainability and Finance
- Sustainability Reporting (including GRI)
The keys to Impact Sustainability are there. They require work and discipline, both in developing the strategies and in executing on them
Our online resource library of written articles and video channels has material that can help you achieve this. We will also be offering an intensive one-week Masterclass on Executive Sustainability in November in Accra, Ghana.
If your business would like support or training on Impact Sustainability contact Wayne Dunn directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org