Making Sustainability Sustainable
International Business & Management
Briefly describe the components of a sustainability strategy of Woolworths. Why did Woolworths develop a sustainability strategy? What were the challenges involved in implementing s sustainability strategy in this case?
Woolworths sustainability strategy, labeled the “Good Business Journey”, looked to contribute to the triple bottom line by addressing four key issues: Transformation, social development, environmental focus, and climate change. Within “Transformation” Woolsworth set goals to improve their employment equity and divert more of their supplier relations toward Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Suppliers. By transforming their operations, they are able to utilize local individuals in operations a suppliers, and are able to cut costs in the short- term through decreased shipping distances. Additionally, by doing this,they help fuel local development, and will build a better economy and market for their own products.
The next facet of their sustainability efforts is Social Development. This facet includes protecting and offering direct aid to the local community. This includes mainly social contributions and donations within the community and South Africa as a whole. They have introduced fundraising programs to give money to orphans, surplus distribution programs where they distribute excess food and clothing to the needy, education development programs etc.
Next, they have also put a strong focus on protecting the environment in which they work. They have done this by focusing on organic sourcing of food and clothing contents, and promoting healthy eating and living within their community. Additionally, they have began reducing water consumption, enforcing codes of conduct on production and materials used, enforcing recycling standards across all levels of the company, and have been having an influence on local farmers by migrating them towards organic farming, or environmentally sensitive farming methods.
Finally, they have also made major efforts to address climate change and their impact on it. They developed an original goal of reducing their relative carbon footprint by thirty percent. They plan on achieving this reduction by focusing on transport emmissions, developing more efficient and localized supply chains, decreasing electricity used, innovating on farming methods, and the opening of green factories and stores.
These four aspects (transformation, social development, Environmental focus, and climate change) allow the company to improve current economic conditions and living standards, as well as maintain and improve the entire earth environment for many years to come.
But why would Woolsworth do this?
Well, since day one, they have sold themselves on the values of “quality and style, value for money, service, innovation and integrity”. They consider themselves to be “a cut above everything else in value and quality”, and they “aspire to become the most trusted and respected modern south African retail brand” (Simon Susman, Woolsworth’s CEO). Because of these initial core values, sustainability is very important in maintaining that high quality perception. Especially today, when all companies are employing some form of sustainability strategy- it is important that Woolsowrth go above and beyond in order to stand by their initial promise of quality and superiority. Additionally with their increased size as a company, there is also increased responsibility and accountability for their actions, and they have realized this and are taking steps to be more sustainable. Finally, they realize that most of the initiatives will drastically decrease their costs in the long run allowing them to be more prosperous in the future.
Based on the case data discuss who creates the pressure for businesses to be sustainable and how much extra