“Sustainability in Business: A Personal and Practical Journey”

My exploration into sustainable business practices has been a transformative journey. It gained momentum with my participation in the “Green Advantage” course at Aston University, designed to help organizations embrace sustainability.

Initially, the idea of a course on business sustainability made me apprehensive. I anticipated it would be another reminder of my shortcomings in contributing to environmental preservation. However, the course, instead of leaving me feeling inadequate, provided enlightening insights into sustainable business practices and introduced me to the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), which were new to me.

Looking back, my interest in sustainability isn’t recent. As a financial adviser in the mid-1990s, I was an early advocate for ethical investments, a field then in its infancy. The common belief was that prioritizing ethics meant sacrificing financial returns. This perception has drastically changed. Today, companies embracing a B-Corp philosophy, which integrates ethical considerations into business practices, are often seen as some of the best places to work. They prove that having a conscience in business leads to fair employee treatment and fosters a positive culture, which is beneficial for both staff and community. Which in turn translates into greater returns for all stakeholders.

This shift aligns with the values of new generations entering the workforce. They prioritize how businesses treat their employees and resources and whether they cultivate a people-centric workplace culture. To attract the right talent in the future businesses will need to embrace operating sustainably.

In our own business, we have chosen to focus on three of the UN SDGs:

1. Goal 3 – Good Health & Well-Being: We create work environments that promote mental health. Research, like that from the Mayo Clinic, suggests that enjoying at least 20% of your daily tasks is essential for mental well-being and work engagement. In today’s world, where mental health challenges are rampant, fostering a healthy workplace with trusted relationships is vital.

2. Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: The Enron scandal was a wake-up call for corporate America. It led my mentor, John Maxwell, to write about business ethics, arguing that ethics are a fundamental part of one’s character, not just a switch to be flipped on at work. This principle guides our approach to valuing people and creating opportunities for all, leading to decent work and economic growth.

3. Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities: We are committed to supporting global projects that offer economic and medical relief. This commitment extends beyond our immediate community, encouraging other businesses to adopt a globally aware and inclusive approach.

This blog is just a snapshot of my ongoing journey with sustainable business practices.

For those keen to delve deeper into sustainability, I recommend exploring the UN SDGs https://sdgs.un.org/goals

If you’re in the West Midlands, Aston University’s Green Advantage course is an excellent resource to understand and enhance your sustainable business practices. Remember, you might be more sustainable than you think!

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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