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ISO Standards for Business Sustainability

1.0 Introduction:

The goal of any business is not only to earn profit but also a source of a sustainable source of earnings. But the basic question is “How can we make a Business Sustainable?”

Before answering this question, we need to understand that sustainable business performance means expanding our judgment of success beyond the investors and business owners and including all those who are affected by the business. In short, understanding the needs and expectations of the interested parties, termed as stakeholders, and fulfilling them to the great possible extent.

When a company’s business success takes into account the views of affected stakeholders and connected to tangible results such as:

  • Reduced costs – e.g. avoid regulatory action or more efficient use of resources

  • Repeatability of performance: e.g. From a business continuity perspective

  • Building trust – maintain the “license to operate” from staff and external stakeholders

  • Wider risk management approach

  • Enhancing innovation

  • Improving partnerships: e.g. with suppliers and customers

  • Being committed to interested parties

All these may be some anecdotal efforts but the most needed is a system of repeatability.

2.0 The Concept of 3P or Triple Bottom Line:

This brings in the concept of the 3Ps (People, Planet & Profit) or the Triple Bottom Line. For the sustainable business parse, your business may be considered as a robust pyramidal structure, whose base or foundation needs to be the strongest. This base is basically made of three elements –

  • Quality of your product & services, which gives you PROFIT directly

  • Health & Safety of your employees and the people in the vicinity or you may simply term as PEOPLE

  • Environment that represents PLANET

These make the 3Ps or Triple Bottom Line of the robust structure of Business Sustainability.

Along with Profit and people, we must consider Planet too as –

GOD always forgives,

People often forgive,

But nature never forgives

All of us must accept that -

  • Health, safety, and environment (HSE) is an essential element of Business Sustainability

  • Sustainable organisations strive to balance the triple bottom line to achieve long-term success and viability

  • Organisations of all sizes across the country and around the world have embraced this mindset as a way to showcase their values, measure impacts and outcomes, and increase their competitive advantage

  • Integrating Health, safety, and environment into sustainability provides an opportunity to better protect the environment and people to achieve a truly sustainable organisation

3.0 Role of ISO standards:

ISO standards can be extremely helpful for bringing in Business sustainability. How?

  1. The first ‘P’ – ‘Profit’ – comes from the implementation of a Quality Management System (ISO 9001)

  2. The second ‘P’ – ‘People’ – the Health & safety of the people is very important and our business activities shall be concerned about the health & safety of the people. Occupational Health & Safety Management System i.e. ISO 45001 addresses this part.

  3. The third ‘P’ – ‘Planet’ – Our business activities shall not affect the environment. Environment Management System (ISO 14001) can take care of this part.

4.0 Importance of Value Creation:

Sustainable business means creating value for your business. Hence, the next question is how do we create value? A few easy Steps may be followed –

  • Managing your challenges today while being here tomorrow

  • Not something you have, you build it over time

  • Start by learning what is most important to you and your stakeholders

  • How does it affect the outcome of your long-term business targets?

  • It is a step-by-step journey

5.0 Final Remarks:

My experience says, most of the ISO-certified organisations do not implement ISO standards in true spirit. They probably are concerned about compliance and certification. As a result, these beautiful tools are not underutilized and fail to bring business sustainability to many organisations.

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