The modern corporate world is faced by different challenges that emerge on a daily basis. Most of these challenges have emanate from the past mistakes and failure to take caution by businesses and organizations, governments and the general society as a whole. These challenges have been found to hinder and restrict the normal running of these businesses and organizations. Moreover, they have occasionally interrupted the normal supply chain in the society thus creating a vacuum that has caused a shift in prices causing either deficits or surpluses on the overall market. Therefore, businesses and organizations have formulated strategies that enable them to stay in the market no matter the type of conditions they are exposed to. Among these strategies is Supply Chain Sustainability or simply put sustainability.
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Supply Chain Sustainability can be defined as the ability of a business or organization to act in a rational way such that it is able to maintain the environment in which it is based thus avoiding problems that arise due to alteration of this environment. As a result, the ability to maintain one’s environment will guarantee up to a certain percentage the success of the development processes of such a business or organization. On the other hand, supply chain sustainability does not prosper the business or organization under which it is applied alone. Studies that have been carried out in the past on supply chain sustainability found out that even people around such businesses and organizations are bound to benefit in one way or another. Therefore, supply chain sustainability is an all round issue that cannot be ignored either by the businesses or organizations or by the community setup in which these businesses or organizations have an opportunity to run their activities. There are also other factors that have been integrated into the whole subject of sustainability. One of these factors it the triple bottom line.
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A critical analysis of sustainability and the triple bottom line unearthed various findings. It was found out that sustainability should not focus on benefiting businesses and organizations alone but the society around such businesses and organizations as a whole. While in the past sustainability was supposed to dwell on economic ability of a business or organization, there have been new requirements that have been introduced in the business policies to ensure that the society too is able to benefit while the environment is maintained to ensure that its current state is not eroded away. One of these factors is social corporate responsibility that seeks to encourage organizations to give back to the society a certain percentage of their gains.
It was also found out that there are various approaches to sustainability that can be employed to deal with this issue among businesses and organizations. According to Henriques & Richardson (2004), there are two approaches to sustainability, i.e. top-down and inside out approach (p. xix). The top-down approach to sustainability dwells much on control, management and measurement. Under this approach, the implementation of management system in the overall running of business activities is limited by different factor that arise from the outside sources. On the other hand, the inside-out approach requires that business come up with innovation programs that enable them to attain sustainability in their activities. The top-down approach to sustainability relies on the fact that governments are required to lay the necessary structures to control the overall activities of non-governmental structures. On the other hand, the inside-out approach to sustainability is based on the fact that it is the responsibility of any organization to align itself in such a way that it is able to control and monitor its activities rather than waiting for the government to formulate laws and regulations to help it do so. Therefore, the relationship of the government and these organizations remains to be ‘partners’ relationship, rather than a master-servant relationship. Therefore, organizations under inside-out approach works out on self-regulating programs while those under the top-down approach waits for the government to use its mandate to enforce the necessary measure that enhance sustainability.
The research on sustainability also shows that it focuses on the stewardship of the environment in which a business is operating. As has been asserted by Galea (2004), the resources that are used mainly for production purposes have been declining at a very high rate (p.108). Therefore, there has risen a need for these resources to be protected and used efficiently to avoid endangering the future generation whom, if strategies to take care of these resources are not implemented, they will have nothing to use for their own survival. Thus sustainability is propagated with an aim of not only protecting the environment but also the future generation. For example, gas emissions into the environment have harmed it at a great length and if this continues, global warming will cause the extinction of human beings and life as a whole from the face of the earth. Therefore, even as businesses seek to earn large amounts of profits, they have to ensure that tomorrow’s survival is guaranteed through keeping the current environment safe.
It was also found out that there is an integration of other issues into the whole sustainability scenario that has sought to enhance the way it operated in the society. Among the factors that have been integrated into sustainability is the triple bottom line. This is whereby the businesses and organizations focus not only on the economic issues within their environment but also on the social and environmental impact of their activities. The past century witness an enormous amount of wastes being released into the environment. These wastes have contributed greatly to poor lives on the globe as people struggle with issues that are as a result of direct interaction with industrial emissions that were released into the environment as different economies struggled to enhance their industrial capabilities. According to Galea (2004), human activities have actually endangered the very environment in which they live in. therefore, it is important for these activities to be controlled with every person being called to be responsible for his activities (p.107).
There are certain benefits that are associated with triple bottom line and sustainability both in the corporate and the social world. To the corporate world, the triple bottom line theory has been able to generate economic benefits that emerge from the fact that while maintaining their supplies to the society, they are also able to continue with their production processes that stems from the fact that raw materials and other factors of production are been maintained and therefore there is no interruption of the flow of the supply chain. On the other hand, the supply chain management requires the availability of consumers to purchase the goods and services that are produced. Therefore, sustainability and triple bottom line plays a critical role in ensuring that there is a ready market for goods and services that are produced (Getz, 2007).
Sustainability is one of the core factors that every business and organization in the society must consider if it is continue running for many years to come. The caring of the natural environment and the people around a particular business or organization can play a very important role in steering an organization to its success. On the other hand, there are factors that have been integrated into sustainability to guarantee that there is an adherence to sustainability requirements. Among these is the triple bottom line. This is whereby sustainability is required not only to focus on financial and economic management of businesses and organizations but also on their responsibility towards the society and the natural environment.
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