Social sustainability in economic activity refers to the actions that support the development of a company in harmony with its environment and specifically, with people.
When companies evaluate the feasibility of their activities in a certain place, it is undoubtedly necessary to identify the social implications that these activities will have on the community.
For this, the questions that must be answered at least are:
- What aspects of the company's activity will be of interest to the community?
- How will work be done so that the activities of the company do not lead to the ways of life, culture and quality of life of that community?
This is where the importance of social sustainability lies, which is a bridge between economic development and social development.
The image of the company with the community
It is important to know that working on the social sustainability of an organization does not mean manipulating reality, or presenting the facts with makeup. For example, if a company is dedicated to the manufacture of paper, it cannot pretend to convince people that they do not pollute, because clearly it is very difficult to believe, and trying to do so will cause even more suspicions among people.
Rather, say; “Our company does emit polluting gases, but we will mitigate these emissions through a treatment that…” (and explain the way, so that people are informed about the process from the first source).
Transparency and honesty is the key that opens relations with the community for future actions.
Corporate social responsibility as part of social sustainability
Indeed, social responsibility contributes a lot to the development of social sustainability, but here it should be noted that the main characteristic of the latter is that it must last over time and have projection.
Corporate social responsibility is a task that is based mainly on the day to day. On the other hand, to achieve social sustainability, a long period must pass where it is verified that the business activity is cohesive with its environment and both benefit from this development.
What aspects should a company consider to be socially sustainable?
Mainly the balance between the benefits obtained by the economic activity carried out in a certain territory, with the benefits that the community and society can obtain from that activity in terms of employment, economic development, business activities, care for the environment, preservation cultural practices, promoting community projects, among others.
Example of socially sustainable activities
If an agricultural company installs its operations in a territory, it can perfectly summon the locals to work in it. Likewise, allocate a part of its fields to the construction of areas for community use, such as gyms, sports fields and / or meeting centers for holding events for the benefit of the community.
Additionally, the company can be a study center for universities and students in training, who need to be inserted in it to obtain experience or relevant information for the purpose of research in areas of medical, environmental, or social sciences.
The possibility that locals activate businesses is also a consequence of a sustainable activity, because this would not happen if the company were not in that place. Therefore, the installation of a new restaurant, hotel or gas station is a consequence of this economic activity.
On the other hand, when companies become part of community development, they work directly on projects that benefit them. For example, the installation of a rural school where there was none, or the co-financing for the paving of an access to a complex place. All elements of urgency and importance for the community, which are possible with joint efforts between the company, the community and sometimes, local or state governments.
What benefits does social sustainability have for organizations?
The benefits are various, but the most important thing is that they are long-term, therefore, lasting over time.
Some benefits are:
- Projects transparency about your economic activity.
- It fosters the harmonious relationship between the company and the community.
- The projects that arise with the community are participatory. Therefore, their probability of success is higher than if they were only designed by the organization.
- It allows public-private articulation, through projects with state institutions, by pooling resources and efforts for the benefit of a community.
- The organization generates that the community takes ownership and / or identifies with its activity. Therefore, your operation can be projected in the long term.
In short, companies that carry out a socially sustainable economic activity have a greater probability of success, because they are much more analytical than those that do not. This because they include the gaze of other relevant actors in the territory; like the inhabitants of the place, state institutions, social organizations and their own workers. What builds relationships of greater value and long term, which make the operational activity of the company flow, safeguarding the elements of the place with which they coexist.Social entrepreneurship