A Guide to Social Sustainability | Everything Sustainable

According to information provided by the Sustainability Management School of Switzerland, up to 700 million people could be displaced by 2030 due to scarce water sources. Currently, 90% of people in the world breathe in air pollution. Research also shows that people who work in green offices have higher cognitive function, are sick less often, and sleep better. Protecting the environment is the key to human survival, and social sustainability is essential for improving the environment and quality of life in communities across the world.

The Definition of Social Sustainability

Sustainable development has been abuzz in the corporate world for several years now, but the focus is usually on economics or the environment. Many don’t realize that social sustainability is a key component of creating economic and environmental success. Social sustainability includes both formal and informal processes, structures, and other systems that create healthy communities.

Dimensions of Social Sustainability

There are several dimensions to creating socially sustainable communities: equality and diversity, quality of life, social cohesion, and democracy. Equality, the first dimension, is important for ensuring all members of the community have equal advantages by helping remove the barriers that prevent minorities or disadvantaged individuals from controlling their own lives.

Quality of life is essential for all members of a community as well and goes beyond simply being a safe and secure neighborhood. For a community to offer true quality of life, it must provide residents with affordable housing options and access to education, employment opportunities, and affordable physical and mental health services.

Social cohesion is important as well and refers to the connections between individuals, groups of people, or businesses and residents in a community. Its goal is to help people access civic institutions and create more community participation.

Finally, social sustainability requires democratic governance. This helps to ensure community budgets and resources are allotted fairly across all sustainability programs. It prevents corporations from receiving resources they don’t need and provides adequate healthcare, housing, and education for people instead.

How Corporations Can Aid in Social Sustainability

For a community to be truly socially sustainable, the corporations doing business within it must become a part of the effort. This means contributing to the community by creating jobs, providing quality goods and services at affordable price points, promoting socially sustainable public policies, and partnering with other businesses to create a more positive impact. Examples include reducing carbon footprints; donating money, products, or services to causes within the community; using ethical labor practices; and volunteering time at community events.

If you are a business owner, creating a socially sustainable business model will put you among the ranks of LEGO, TOMS, Google, Pfizer, and more. These international corporations have invested in environmentally friendly packaging and donated to climate change efforts, put 33% of profits to physical and mental health initiatives, invested in renewable energy resources, and provided health services for women and children in need, respectively.

Social sustainability is increasingly important as communities expand and more people move into urban areas. Whether you are a business owner or simply a resident interested in improving your neighborhood, it is important to do your part to create a thriving community. Donate, volunteer your time, or provide services to your neighbors to begin creating social cohesion and a better quality of life around you.

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