Why sustainability is more important than ever

Sustainability: a key factor that most organisations in today's society strive to achieve. But why is it so important? Why should you care? And why should you be working with suppliers that are certified to British standards for sustainability? Stone Group's Martin Ruston investigates.

Effectively managing your triple bottom line builds credibility, improves relationships and enhances brand awareness

Effectively managing your triple bottom line builds credibility, improves relationships and enhances brand awareness

The concept of sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. For a long time, environmental impact had been the main focus for many organisations craving a sustainability philosophy. 

But the umbrella of sustainability holds more scope than this and also requires considerations on both social and economic issues. At its core, it's an approach to balancing different, and quite often competing, needs against the awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations businesses face. 

Put more simply, it's about managing People, Planet and Profit - otherwise known as the triple bottom line. 

The principles of sustainability have long been a focus for us at Stone Group and we continually monitor our business strategy to ensure we incorporate key issues that are raised by our staff, investors and customers. 

Why is sustainability important? 

Obviously there is the 'financial gain' reasoning such as extended ROI and increased profitability, but from a deeper point of view, organisations can get a lot more satisfaction through sustainability. 

Here's just a few reasons why managing sustainability is important: 

· Allows for deeper understanding of customer needs 
· Improves trust and engagement between staff, investors, customers and other stakeholders 
· Allows business practices to be more efficient 
· Attracts and retain employees 
· Improves customer sales and loyalty 
· Builds credibility, improves relationships and enhances brand awareness 
· Strengthens community relations 
· Contributes to environmental efficiency through management systems (i.e. ISO 14001) 
· Enables innovation 


Through the newly released standard for sustainable development - the BS8900 certification - organisations are examined on how well they meet the specific guidelines and requirements and are then awarded the certification based on the successful fulfilment of the criteria. Those who were awarded BS8900 have taken a genuine and effective approach to addressing and managing sustainable development. 

The BS8900 certification is designed to help organisations to continually evolve their approach to sustainable development. It allows them to evolve and adapt to meet the new and continuing challenges and demands faced every day. It demonstrates that the business is growing in a responsible manner and can reduce the negative impacts, whilst realising the positive benefits for People, Profit and Planet. 

A key objective for Stone Group last year was to become the first in our sector to be able to demonstrate conformance for sustainable development. Therefore, aligning ourselves to BS8900 the standard has given us a clear strategic vision that ensures effective engagement with all of our stakeholders, identification of relevant issues and assessment of risks against current and future policies. Applying this process ensures that we're aligning our strategy with sustainable issues of significance to the environment we operate in, and in doing so, identifying any further opportunity for development. 

Why care? 

Over the past few years, institutions have increasingly been focused on the sustainability of their suppliers due to their own policies for sustainable procurement. The selection of suppliers with sustainability policies in place and credentials to back this up is an exceptionally important element to ensuring sustainable development within the supply chain and beyond. 

It provides you with tangible evidence that, as your supplier, organisations are focused on sustainable issues that are central to the business' strategic objectives. It also gives you valued assurance that the organisation will assist you in meeting your own sustainability policies. 

For example, we have worked with a number of institutions, including the University of Portsmouth and City of Bath College, where sustainability and sustainable development policies are high on the agenda. 

Mark Besley, the ICT administrator for City of Bath College, said: "Recycling is a major responsibility and very important because the college gets audited every year, as part of national requirements, on its recycling process to ensure we are disposing and recycling our IT assets in an environmentally responsible way. Ensuring we have the correct paperwork and documentation as part of this is vital." 

Martin Ruston is group compliance manager of Stone Group, which provides ICT solutions to education and the public sector.


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