Ethics and Sustainability
Businesses are known to have the primary aim of making profits. They add value to inputs that they then make available to a consuming party at a fee from which a portion is expected to be profits. The human economic system is reliant on the nature to provide key resources as well as the enabling platform for societies to thrive economically and socially. There has been a consensus that economic activity leads to negative environmental outcomes (Schwartz 2017). Businesses have become increasingly faced with the challenge of conducting operations ethically and sustainably and at the same time answer to stockholder’s demand for returns on their investment.
Point of View
From my point of view, a business is supposed to cater to the needs of all stakeholders. These stakeholders range from employees, customers, the community, the environment to shareholders. A business that fails to meet one of these stakeholder's needs is laying the foundation for its death. With regard to ecological systems, humanity has traveled the length and breadth of the world and has been able to quantify some of its primary attributes. With this capability, the acknowledgment of nature's slow-paced processes and human's fast-paced orientation conflict occurred (Doppelt 2017). A crisis between nature and man leads to crises among human beings.
Furthermore, businesses have the needs of other human stakeholders to take care of. These needs are related to human rights, labor integrity, and community participation. By taking care of these needs, the business will be acting in sustainable ways. Sustainability relates to the long-term orientation of balancing current needs with future ones. Some businesses find it difficult to embrace ethical and sustainability behavior as they perceive economic growth and sustainability to be mutually exclusive. In this approach, the economy is such a large pillar of sustainable development that focuses on the pillars of society and ecology will lead to less significant outcomes in the economic component (Ni & Van Wart 2015).
Alternative Point of View
An alternative point of view relies on the economic principle of free markets. In perfectly liberal markets, resources are allocated to the areas where they provide the greatest output (Crane & Matten 2016). In the relationship between nature and human systems, this concept can be applied to make agents that generate the greatest satisfaction from profit seek it. In this case, all externalities ought to be identifiable and valued. As such, any economic agent has to internalize all externalities. The internalization will provide resources for the various institutions that care for the environment. In this case, it will be essential to have a strong legal framework to enforce the internalization rules as well as powerful incentives to comply and avoid unethical practices.
Although most businesses are aware of sustainability concerns, implementation of sustainable strategies remain a key challenge. As a business leader, I would invest in studies to quantify and project the effect of a possible strategy inclination towards sustainability. Studies have shown that sound sustainability standards add value to a business. The allocation of resources towards sustainable practices may have lagged positive impacts on assets as well as the specific stakeholders. Nonetheless, short-term gains for long-term losses is always the wrong choice.
Crane, A. and Matten, D., 2016. Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.
Doppelt, B., 2017. Leading change toward sustainability: A change-management guide for business, government and civil society. Routledge.
Ni, A. and Van Wart, M., 2015. Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing Well and Doing Good. In Building Business-Government Relations (pp. 175-196). Routledge.
Schwartz, M.S., 2017. Corporate social responsibility. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly/article/corporate-social-responsibility-a-threedomain-approach/0655292E11AC9C9CA33ACD433417518C