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Sustainable business: who's responsible?

Sustainable business: who's responsible?

Sustainable businesses are still a new reality in many countries. However, today we’re witnessing many initiatives around the globe led by desire to foster and protect green awareness, to generate competitive advantage, and to connect with customers and employees who are ever more oriented toward a green mindset.

The change is occurring at different levels; industry associations, academic institutions, local, state and federal governments, businesses, and NGOs (non-government organisations), to the point that many careers have been created in the field of corporate sustainability. As with every new process, particularly on a large scale, the questions that arise are:

  • Whose responsibility is this sustainable approach?
  • Should this be a personal choice of any entrepreneur or employee, or rather an approach enforced by governments worldwide?

Many believe that going green should be a voluntary process to drive social and environmental issues. Certainly, governments play an important role in promoting and ensuring that these initiatives are taken up by businesses. The impacts of many businesses that are not yet sustainable cannot be ignored and someone needs to ascertain that organisations comply with the law and how this is done. The pressure on governments regarding environmental and social issues of sustainability is confronting and needs to be addressed. Others believe that corporate laws are not appropriate and applicable to a concept that is voluntary.

Sustainable business should then be seen as a collaboration. On one hand, governments would facilitate and enable main actors toward a green view with a diminished regulatory power. On the other hand, the best way to pursue a sustainable business should be up to the organisation itself. That is, sustainability would be based on both legal requirements and voluntary conduct.


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What’s your view? Should business be more or less responsible than government in facilitating sustainable business practices?

Share your thoughts in the Comments area.


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This article is from the free online course:

Business Futures: Sustainable Business Through Green HR

RMIT University