Discuss what sustainability is and expand on the reasons this concept is of particular concern for managers today. The role of the manager when it comes to sustainability is a critical one. Firstly, sustainability has become a standard in modern economics, which means managers can no longer formulate polices ignoring sustainability. Sustainability from its initial definitions in the Brundtland report was analysed in different scientific angles based on the pillars of sustainability. In current times, a variety of tools and indicators are being used to understand sustainability at both a conceptual level and an industry specific level.
For instance, in the context of environmental assessment, indicators like the Air Quality Indicator is used to measure exposure to ozone gases. Freshwater Quality Indicator, Greenhouse Emission indicator etc. are also used. With respect to the social pillar, the Human Capital Indicator is used. There are tools like the triple bottom line which help in sustainability evaluation and measurement. Now these indicators, regulatory angles and more find practical implementation in the companies which such emissions concerns occur (Waas et al., 2014). Firms also have worked on their management concepts in relation to sustainability. Some of the main concepts are Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, Corporate citizenship, Social responsibility policies etc. The role of the manager here is to implement these policies and herein managers accept sustainability as one of the key tasks in running the corporation. 1) Managers perceive the role of sustainability management as one that is necessary for the firm to continue with high reputation. 2) Managers want to direct the firm in order to make them adopt sustainability initiatives for purely altruistic reasons. 3) Managers want to show their sustainability commitment to their stakeholders and hence are driven to be responsible for company inputs and outputs. The concept of sustainability and CSR go hand in hand in many organizations and hence the role of the manager is pivotal in guiding sustainability as an action generating concept on its own merit.
CSR and sustainability being used interchangeably stop sustainability from being recognized as an independent concept in management study. A manager has to understand and implement sustainability as an action generating concept, and not merely regard it as a part of the CSR initiatives in working place. It is necessary for them to realize the linkages in sustainability and decision making. There are three challenges and opportunities for the manager here when they are implementing sustainability. Firstly, there is the concern of interpretation. The manager has to interpret sustainability options in the context of a broader socio-environment and economic context. An integrated interpretation is necessary and this might not happen in all situations. The manager will have to strive to understand how such an integrated understanding can be implemented. Information structuring will be a challenge for the manager. Sustainability initiatives are multidimensional. It is the role of the manager to apply such structured information into a more coherent focus. It has to be properly fed for decision making. Finally, influence and communication is an important challenge. Managers must work on influencing the teams they work with so as to create efficient sustainability development and management.