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The concept of sustainable development of a company, organisation or individual can be defined as complementary activities and ways of thinking, which assume that there is a balanced approach to the subject matter, which in turn excludes concentration on a single area of a given business activity.

In reality, it means that enterprises, organisations and individuals are all responsible not only for their influence on the present time (here and now), but equally so for their impact on the future – which they shape for the generations to come. Such understanding of sustainable development requires for many entities to change their attitude and way of thinking.

What else do we need to know about sustainable development?

Increasing social pressure, a need for reliable information and data or depleting natural resources – these are just a few from a long list of challenges for companies, organisations and individuals. Engaging in business activity focused clearly on earning money belongs to the philosophy of the here and the now – a one-dimensional way of thinking which ignores contemporary trends, global tendencies and social, cultural and economic challenges. The idea of sustainable development is based on an ability to tell the difference between the concepts of the present and future times:

HERE AND NOW

- Learned unawareness of e.g. business activity in the market, sector, line of business, the environment,
- One-dimensional character of activities e.g. developing solutions on the basis of the knowledge of a limited group of people,
- Selective approach, e.g. a department as a separate entity, not a part of something bigger,
- Reactive approach, e.g. a lack of systemic approach towards dealing with e.g. social issues,
- Leadership as a goal in itself,
- Innovation only in response to current needs of the company.

Source: the author’s own materials

THE FUTURE

- Awareness of the influence on e.g. business activity in the market, line of business, the environment,
- Multi-dimensional character of activities, e.g. project work on the basis of the resources of all the departments,
- Holistic approach, e.g. a company like an organism,
- Systemic approach, e.g. a conscious and long-term strategy of social involvement,
- Leadership as an element of the management of value for stakeholders,
- Innovation as a way to create value for the current and future generations.

The idea of sustainable development is inextricably linked with the concept of corporate social responsibility. It is a broad-ranging notion and it contains many strategic elements of CSR.

Why do we need sustainable development?

Sustainable development assumes an ability to be courageous enough to take full responsibility for the activity of a company, an organisation or an individual. In practical terms, this means readiness to understand the results of many activities, decisions, market moves and statements. What really matters in this respect is an awareness of the influence of business activity on employees and their families, suppliers as well as their own suppliers, public opinion and so on. Such an approach builds the value of a brand, a company or an individual in the eyes of larger social groups. The approach also creates balanced value for the present and future generations, which in turn benefits the profitability of business projects, the value of a company’s shares or the continuity of investment processes.

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