Kenya: Global Compact urges businesses to embrace sustainable practices on labour, environment & human rights

Author: Judy Njino, Global Compact Network (Kenya), in Mediamax (Kenya), Published on: 14 January 2019

"Sustainable businesses can unlock growth"

Self-interest has always been the key driving force for economic activity. Out of individual actions borne of self-interest, society benefits. For businesses, the meaning of self-interest has traditionally been straightforward: keep production costs as low as possible and maximise profits. Defined in such narrow terms, corporate self-interest has often meant obtaining the cheapest labour and raw materials, while minimising associated expenditure...But this zero sum business model that emphasizes maximising profits over all else has also left in its wake not only a similar number of poor/vulnerable people, but also a rapidly warming planet on the brink of epochal catastrophe...

The traditional definition of corporate self-interest has caused considerable harm to the global society—environmental degradation, human rights violations, declining labour standards and corruption, to name a few. As such, businesses have a huge social responsibility to remedy the situation and place the world on a more sustainable footing. But beyond social responsibility, corporates have a fundamental self-interest in securing sustainable future. Why so?  No business can succeed in a society, environment or an ecosystem that is failing. Business as usual is no longer tenable. Sustainability, as codified in the Sustainable Development Goals, must therefore become a defining feature of contemporary business strategy and operations...

Upholding fundamental labour standards is the surest approach to attract and retain talent. Adopting environment-friendly policies increases resource efficiency, lowers insurance costs and improves supply chain reliability. And according to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth up to $12 trillion and create 380 million jobs by 2030. Put simply, sustainability is profitability. It is success not just for shareholders, but also other stakeholders including employees, supply chains, governments, and the planet.

 

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