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Is Your Business Inefficient or Just Unsustainable?

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Is your business thriving or surviving?

Sustainable business illustration
Unsustainable Maze by Tarika Jain

Businesses are finding it difficult to make profits in recent times with the increasing commitment to social and environmental responsibilities. They are solely relying on profit maximization to sustain themselves. Instead of paying close attention to the long-term effects of their business practices, they are running after short-term profits. The integrity of the brand, quality of services and employment status are being put on a pedestal for higher profit margins. The powerful 'purpose' of a business is being replaced with 'profit' which is diluting the value of services and motivation of the workforce. Don't let this happen in your business. Balance the triple bottom line dynamic of people, planet, and profits in alignment with your purpose. Make necessary changes in your systems and structures to achieve a sustainable business.

Company Culture

Company culture encompasses the unique social environment of a business- organizational structure, internal communications, type of leaders and goals. Ideally, a company structure must foster the inclusion of all people in the business. Unsustainable businesses follow a traditional and hierarchical top-down model, experience power struggles and are governed by the self-interest of leaders. A demarcation between employees and senior roles creates feelings of distrust and loss of purpose.

In order to improve the company culture of your businesses, core values and employee engagement must be reassessed. After obtaining open feedback via methods like surveys, businesses can conduct employee engagement activities and training for senior management on key issues encountered. For example- micro-aggressive behaviours like "Passing comments about female employees being too qualified for a woman” or "When a person belonging to an upper caste avoids talking to the manual labourers he/she has hired", must be met with inclusive training. Opportunities for feedback and open communication should also be encouraged. A culture that allows participation at each level with defined decision-making abilities is sure to ensure long-term results.

Working Conditions

The entire workforce is a valuable asset in any business, they must be entitled to respect and decent working conditions. With the right management skills and the provision of a safe workplace, the work of people can easily be converted into remunerative benefits. Working conditions have a crucial effect on workforce commitment, motivation and retention. Equal pay, listed hours of work, leaves, overtime compensation, and fair treatment should be prioritized under working conditions. Businesses should focus on establishing collective bargaining through policies, employee groups and inclusive cultural training.

An important criterion to keep in mind while implementing these solutions is that businesses should be flexible and adaptive to the felt needs of the workforce. For example, if an employee with a physical disability is unable to be present in the office all 5 days a week, you can offer a work-from-home option suited to their needs. Along with this, businesses should provide up-to-date technology, sanitary surroundings, conducive infrastructure and disturbance-free environments to create high-performing employees.

Circular Business Model

Businesses can adopt a circular model to cut the waste of resources and maximize profits through reusing, recycling, reducing, and recovering. A circular model is applicable in various business areas like strategic planning, cost management, supply chain management, quality management, environmental management, process management, logistics and reverse logistics, service management, and research and development.

Impact Map of Circular Business Model On Sustainable Business Management

The impact map above seeks to summarize the main implications of a circular business model on sustainable management. It represents how businesses may include new practices like recycling products and reuse of materials/resources within their supply chain, operations, products/service lifecycle, and logistics. For example- you can become a circular business if you convert by-products into high-value materials or simply improve leaks in the talent management system. A circular design in business guarantees efficiency, unlike a linear design that allows resources to be dumped after use. It involves taking small steps at any stage to prevent tangible and intangible losses.

Change and Innovation

Businesses must recognize the inevitability and constancy of change, they should be prepared to update and adapt according to circumstances. Innovation has the power to manage risks and changes with advantage. Be it new technology, change in structure, value chain or even products. The ever-changing business landscape should not be met with resistance or one-way solutions as it can hinder growth. Businesses should constantly engage in evaluation processes for assessing gaps followed by problem-solving, encouragement, strong communication and training. For example- in order to accommodate the smooth return of employees to offices after the pandemic, a business can implement guidelines for their safety and support group discussions to talk about their concerns along with psychological well-being.

Efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand. Inefficiency comes from a lack of strong company culture, resistance to change, linear designs and poor working conditions. A business cannot achieve success unless it incorporates sustainable practices. Sustain your business by going sustainable.


Christof Miska, Ilona Szőcs, Michael Schiffinger (3 February 2018). Culture’s effects on corporate sustainability practices: A multi-domain and multi-level view, Journal of World Business, Volume 53, Issue 2

Andrew Crane (June 2002).The greening of organizational culture: Management views on the depth, degree and diffusion of change

Anne M. Kok, Frank G. A. de Bakker, Peter Groenewegen (9 April 2017). Sustainability Struggles: Conflicting Cultures and Incompatible Logics

Murillo Vetroni Barros, Rodrigo Salvador, Guilherme Francisco Do Prado, Antonio Carlos De Francisco Cassiano, Moro Piekarski (7 January 2021). Circular economy as a driver to sustainable businesses

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