Management systems as a tool for sustainable business
Consumers and business require services and products whose sustainability is demonstrated openly and in a traceable manner.
Sustainable business also means long-term profitable activity and employee engagement. Employees commit to companies whose operations are transparent, in line with their values and where staff are valued.
Environmental management is an integral part of a company's management system – not a separate segment – which enables a successful future for the company together with other aspects of management. Putting out fires and pursuing quick profits are outdated methods of management. Instead, forward-looking management and trend identification (for instance, biodiversity and the need to protect it has rapidly risen to relevance alongside the climate debate), risk identification, the development of corporate responsibility programs, discovering new methods to measure responsibility, and updating management systems are current practice in many businesses.
Sustainable business consists of economic, social, and environmental sustainability. There is no need to create an entirely new framework for sustainable business, as there are standardized management systems which can be utilized for this purpose. The International ISO 9001 Management System and ISO 14001 Environmental Management System have been in place since 1990. The standards were revised in 2015 and these include globally recognized and systematic management practices for strategic management and operation. The environmental management system ISO 14001 emphasizes understanding of a changing operational environment, anticipation, and the importance of leadership.
A good management system includes processes to identify both stakeholder requirements and legal obligations. The requirements and modifications identified in accordance with the management system can be implemented quickly. A good management system is in place in the everyday life of a company and helps the company become an industry leader. A functioning management system accurately describes the operations of the company, facilitates management, and serves as guidance if problems arise in operational activities. A management system built on a digital platform is far from the dusty binders of the 90s or a jungle of folder structures spread across hard drives. It is never too late to build a management system, and the existing system requires regular updating and evaluation of new considerations.
In general, companies which operate in a sustainable manner are the leading companies in their field. These companies have identified the risks associated with their operations and proactively developed their operations. Along with the risks, these companies have identified opportunities for business development created by the changing operating environment. By setting economic, social and environmental indicators, the development of operations can be reliably monitored.
Is the leading edge of sustainability still achievable? Absolutely, but it requires goals and systematic work to achieve the targets. Can we help at AFRY? Our robust experience with climate and environmental impacts and management systems is at your disposal.