l responsibilities? Canbusinesses be environmentally responsible and still make a profit?Businesses have always been expected to adhere to general, though illdefined, standards of good conduct.
But the idea that companies shouldfollow principals who might benefit society while not directly improvingtheir bottom line only began gaining ground in any significant way in the1980s. Some ethical businesses make a point of caring for the environment,others of not using child labor from the developing world, or paying moreattention to the welfare of their workers. Care for the environment hasbecome a major policy of many ethical businesses. Corporations are at leastopenly acknowledging that they have a far wider level of responsibility tothe society as a whole. Corporate rhetoric is of course not always matchedwith immediate action and some companies see going green as primarily amarketing and public relations exercise rather than acknowledging theImportance of integrating environmental decision making in all aspects ofbusiness planning and operations. This position goes on to further arguethat businesses are aware of their social responsibility and can beenvironmentally responsible and still make profits.In order to understand this question better, let us first look at what issustainable development.
Sustainable development canbedefinedas”development that meets the needs of the present without compromising theability of future generations to meet their won needs” (cited in WorldCommission, 1987). In other words, sustainable development is that thebasic needs of all are met and that all should have opportunity to fullfill their aspirations for a better life (cited in journal of BusinessEthics, pp157-168, 2001). According to the World Business Council forSustainable Development, sustainable development is the integration ofeconomic development with environmental protection and social equity.There are four levels of sustainable development efforts for businesses,basic level of behaviour, current attainable level of behaviour, practicallevel of behaviour and theoretical level of behaviour. In addition,Business communities have largelyadoptedtheBrutlandCommissiondefinition of sustainable development, such as Development that meets theneeds of the present without compromising the ability of future generationsto meet their own needs. While thetermEcologicallysustainabledevelopment preferred by many environment organisations is farmorerigorous, the relatively rapid acceptance of the concept of sustainabledevelopment, by the corporate sector still heralds a major shift incorporate ethics.
Less than a decade ago the prevailing corporate view wasthat the true and only social role of business organisations was to makeprofits and obey laws.According to Bansal (2001), states that there are advantages of sustainabledevelopment. Firstly, it has a competitive advantage because it producingthe same output with less input, more over, it not only reduces costs butalso increases revenue. Secondly, it is reducing the risk by subscribing tosustainable development. “while a firm may not realize immediate financialbenefits from investing in sustainable development, evidence shows thatsuch investment will have a favourable long term impact on financial risk”it is also suggest actions business can take to implement sustainabledevelopment are policy measures and process improvement.Greater risk comes the potential for great rewards.
“Enterprising companieswill find ways to capture this potential by finding innovative solution tosociety’s challenges” (Day, 1998) states that constrainscanarisesuddenly, in way not expected, there is great risk in market throughinnovation. Moreover, environmental justice is the fair treatment of peopleof all races, cultures, and income with respect to the development,implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, andpolicies, such that certain populations are not disproportionately impactedfrom environmental pollution and unequal access to environmental benefits.Furthermore, sustainable development is not enough; businesses shouldconcern more about innovation.
Therefore, the advantages of businessesthrough innovation can make transition at their own pace, without a suddenfinancial burden, explore various technologies, management system andprocess before making the best choice. Moreover, businesses can gain aleadership position and can influence the form of future constrains thatmight affect their business. Therefore, marketing position in the currentmarket can lead to new markets and new technologies.Businesses can be environmentally responsible and still make profits can besummed up thus: There has been a rapid shift in awareness in many kinds ofthe businesses over the last few years with a shift from environmentalcomplacency to recognition of the need for a further rapid shift inawareness. Over the rest of this decade, what is required is a furtherrapid shift in awareness, a shift to a realisation that more fundamentaland far reaching changes are required to assure ongoing the ecologicalintegrity of Planet Earth. It is essential that these organisations trulyaccept their fundamental responsibility towards the whole of society andthe planet.BibliographyD.
M. Payne and C.A. Raiborn 2001 (July), Journal of Business Ethics: Volume32, No. 2 pp157-168Pratima Bansal, 2001 (Nov-Dec) Ivey Business Journal, Volume 66, pp47-52Robert M. Day, 1998 (March), Sustainable Enterprise Perspectives, WorldResources Institute. http://www.wri.org/wri/meb/sei/beyond.html