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What is social sustainability?

Social sustainability aims to implement a positive impact on people and communities. It is for this reason that it is important for companies to be able to identify the impact they have, enabling them to manage it accordingly. Through this proactive business approach companies identify how their activity impacts their employees, value chain workers and the local community where they operate. Companies that implement this strategy understand and recognize the significance and role their relationship plays in the community and society.

To start with, the social consequences of an organization’s operations need to be identified and managed, in order for it to contribute to the well-being of its employees, clients and local communities. In the past, we used to focus on environmental and economic sustainability, however today, topics such as the respect of the rights, security and safety of people have become central. To the point where, although the protection of citizens’ human rights remains the responsibility of public administrations, companies today are expected to do their part for the community’s well-being.

 

Essentially, social responsibility becomes part of a company’s core business strategy as they consider how their activities affect people.

How can your company become more socially sustainable?

The issue of sustainability for companies today is essential, but the growing attention paid to the social aspects of a company’s strategy, in particular, is driving organizations to develop their social sustainability. Firstly, companies need to assess the impact of their corporate policies on the daily life of their employees. This means that when they implement these policies they should address and include the creation of adequate jobs, goods and services that help meet basic needs, while creating inclusive value chains. The respect of employees’ rights, safety, diversity, work-life balance, well-being and internal communication, are all aspects that must be taken into consideration when trying to create a more equitable work environment.
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However, this alone is not sufficient. Companies today understand it is important to involve local communities, offering support in the form of information or by providing specific resources that will help them. This effort also involves choosing products that come from a supply chain that respects the rights of the employees involved in the production process. In order to achieve this, it is helpful for these separate entities to work together, creating a virtuous cycle and pooling strengths together to increase their positive impact on the community. This is what is intended by social sustainability in business today.

Giving back to the community

Any organization, regardless of its size, has the opportunity to give back to the community a part of what it has earned, by making its valuable expertise and resources available for the improvement of the daily lives of people, thereby contributing to social sustainability. In practice this can happen by hosting awareness-raising events on topics that are important for the company and the community, such as donations for those in need, volunteer opportunities for employees during their work hours or even partnerships with local administrations to build infrastructure that improves social well-being. This enables sustainable business with a positive social impact. 

Prioritizing health and safety

Security and safety are the pillars at the base of any modern company and they must be constantly improved and monitored to offer employees a working environment which is free of any hazard. Some of these practices are: keeping the work areas clean, providing the adequate amount of equipment and training and implementing the adequate safety protocols.
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Supporting a more ethical production chain

The entire production chain needs to be safeguarded from employee mistreatment, or worse, abuse. Companies need to be the ones taking the first step in this regard, changing the means by which they secure their resources and materials. This means there must be careful consideration and attention given when choosing suppliers.

Social sustainability in business: benefits and advantages

What is the importance of sustainability? Expanding the social dimension of sustainability in a company has a significant impact on all aspects of its organization, including the value of its final product or service and the general perception the consumer has about it.

 

Furthermore, as outlined in the UN Global Compact, aiming for social sustainability helps businesses in numerous ways.

 

These advantages include:

Business Solutions

Business Solutions

Enabling sustainable progress, together

  • Employee benefits: they are more involved and engaged in the process, and, at the same time, this increases the talent the company attracts.
  • Business benefits: socially sustainable practices improve the company’s exposure and reputation, contributing to attracting new clients while consolidating existing relationships.
  • Social inclusion: increased inclusiveness, which means talent is not wasted and an overall improvement of the employment market. Thereby also improving the relationship between the company and the community.
  • Improving risk management: increased security helps to prevent workplace accidents and resource waste.

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