Sustainability in Business

Shalom Lamm, the New York Real Estate Mogul and CEO of Operation Benjamin, the non-profit organization that locates Jewish Soldiers buried in American military ceremonies throughout the world and gets them identified with their correct Jewish Heritage believes in sustainability in business.

As Lamm has said many times, running a business of any kind, including a non-profit is like running a marathon. If you go flat all out. you will soon falter and give up the ghost long before hitting the finish line.

According to Harvard Business school, there are two main issues that sustainability addresses:

  • The effect the business organization has on the environment.
  • The effect the business organization has on the overall society.

Harvard suggests that a company at least concentrate on one of the two goals, although naturally, to place attention on both are ideal.

According to professor Knut Haanaes of IMD Business School Lausanne, Switzerland, nearly 62 percent of executives consider sustainability to be a necessary strategy to be competitive today, and another 22 percent consider it to be of vital importance in the future.

Professor Haanes says that expectations about corporate sustainability have never been higher.

Where in the past corporations could get away with pretty much operating however they wanted in foreign countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, China, and Indonesia for example, nowadays with such countries fully cognizant of how water pollution and factory waste are affecting the overall health of the country, the cat is sort of out of the bag so to speak.

No longer can factories and businesses act as if there were two separate worlds, the corporate headquarters, shiny and bright in the United States, or Western Companies like Germany, and their dirty, polluting, low-wage factories overseas.

However, as Professor Haanes has said, while most executives of companies consider sustainability to be important, a significant share, upwards of 75 percent, do not really have sustainability as an inclusive part of their business model. However, plenty of people are noticing.

First, the countries are noticing. Social activists throughout the world have pointed out, in particular, the low wages in factories and the often brutal 12 to 14 hour per day, 6 days a week work conditions.

Meanwhile, governments are increasingly putting on pressure for Western factories to eliminate waste and pollution in their lands.

Finally, consumers, even in the West, are strong believers in sustainability. Studies show that consumers are willing to pay as much as 5 percent more, for environmentally friendly products, and are 37 percent more likely to go out of their way to purchase products that are environmentally friendly. It may take another two decades or so before the full sustainability in business impact makes sustainability a norm, but the days of reckoning are coming.

Shalom Lamm is confident in the idea that business execs in the near future will often be hired for their ability to meld their business plans with the ability to have less effect on the environment and to bring up the wages of those in less developed countries.