The Three Pillars of Corporate Sustainability

The Importance of The Three Pillars of Corporate Sustainability

The drive for sustainable business and a greener approach to industry is supported by three main areas of focus (the pillars), these are:

  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Economic

These three pillars of corporate sustainability are also known as the ‘3 P’s) when they are expressed as: People, Planet, and Prosperity. To create effective policies and drive sustainable action, each pillar needs to be addressed with a strategic and measurable approach.

What Do Each of These Pillars Cover?

There’s a lot of different terminology and discussion around sustainability, you’ll hear people talking about SDG’s (sustainable development goals), ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), and more – and it is important to identify what you are handling, and what each section of your strategy should cover.

Environmental Issues (Planet)

These are focused on what your business is doing and how it impacts the greater environment – so this could include:

  • greenhouse gas emissions and what you’re doing to reduce them
  • how you are using natural resources, and how you’re protecting them
  • whether you are relying on fossil fuels or making a switch to sustainable energy
  • air and water pollution
  • waste management
  • biodiversity

There will be environmental focuses with your supply chain and development process – from how you are innovating and creating your products, to the packing and delivery.

When it comes to ESG reporting, the Environmental area is often the one that attracts the most attention and focus, and it is the area that has the most firmly developed goals and aims associated with it.

Social Issues (People)

This area is directly related to how your business functions, not only does it look at your internal processes, but it also covers how you treat others – whether that’s other businesses, communities, or employees.

When evaluating your social pillar, some of the areas you need to look at include:

  • Human rights
  • Employee rights and retention
  • Diversity, equity, and equality
  • Representation and hiring practices
  • Skills and training
  • Business initiatives

When you’re evaluating this area, it’s important to remember that it’s not just laws and regulations that you need to be complying with, but also – how you treat your social responsibilities will determine whether you’re seen as a company worth engaging with  (for sales, staffing, and investment), and what sort of reputation you develop for yourself.


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