Definition

business sustainability

Part of the Compliance glossary:

Business sustainability, also known as corporate sustainability, is the management and coordination of environmental, social and financial demands and concerns to ensure responsible, ethical and ongoing success.

In a broader context, social, environmental and economic demands are considered the three pillars of sustainability. Within the corporate world, they are sometimes referred to as the triple bottom line. The concept is a departure from the traditional concept of the bottom line, which evaluates all efforts in terms of their short-term effect on profits.

In traditional corporate cultures, social and environmental concerns have typically been considered to conflict with financial goals.  Depletion of non-renewable resources, for example, is obviously not a sustainable practice. However, because alternatives typically require investments in infrastructure,   continuing to rely upon fossil fuels is the least expensive short-term option.

The goal of sustainability requires a more extended timeline for return on investment (ROI) but once initial investments are made, they can actually lead to increased profitability.  One example is free cooling for data centers, which takes advantage of naturally-occurring phenomena to control temperatures. Although the technologies involved may require initial cash outlay, the renewable resources they rely upon are freely available and reliable, which will eventually pay off.

Similarly, investments in socially ethical practices may initially cost a business money but typically lead to enhanced recruitment, branding and public relations (PR), which all tend to lead to increased profitability.

See also: World’s Most Ethical (WME), supply chain sustainability, sustainability risk management (SRM)

This was last updated in November 2013
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • contingency plan

    - In business continuity and risk management, a contingency plan is a process that prepares an organization to respond coherently to an unplanned event. (WhatIs.com)

  • opt-out

    - Opt-out communications are messages sent for marketing, promotion or fundraising that include an option for the recipient to be removed from any future messages. The term was originally applied mos... (WhatIs.com)

  • commercial electronic message (CEM)

    - A commercial electronic message (CEM) is a communication soliciting business, funding or support for something that is sent through any electronic channel, including email, social media, voicemail,... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Compliance

    - Terms related to compliance, including regulatory definitions and words and phrases about governance and mitigating IT risk.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.