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Why are We Focused on The Organization When Mentioning Sustainability?

We can define an organization as a “social entity” that has objectives, a deliberate operating structure, and a coordinated activity system that is linked to its internal and external operating environment. Organizations come in many sizes and types: sole proprietorships, microbusinesses. Companies, corporations, partnerships, not-for-profits, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government departments and agencies. These organizations can be a single unaffiliated operating unit or operating as part of a large multinational corporation. The term organization does not typically apply to government acting in its sovereign role to create and enforce law, exercise judicial authority, and carry out its duty to establish policy in the public interest or honor the international obligations of state.

Organizations consist of people in a structure with an arrangement of responsibilities, authorities, and relationships. Leaders create a structure and commit resources to achieve the organization’s purpose. An organization interacts with its customers, suppliers, and external stakeholders. All this is true whether the organization is unaffiliated or part of a larger organization or supply chain. Every organization has an internal and external context that it operated within. The “relationship diagram” above helps to illustrate the organizational relationships. Organizations shape our lives in many ways and each of us belong to multiple organizations.

Organizations around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the need for, and benefits of, operating in a responsible manner. The object of or organizational sustainability is to create a strategic focus on stewardship within an organization that will contribute to sustainable development. Stakeholders are increasingly exhibiting interests in the organization’s performance in relation to its impact on the environment, the well-being of the employees and the community, and the shared value that it creates in the community, as well as for its customers.

There is a growing recognition that organizations must be resilient if they are to survive in an uncertain world. Resilience enables an organization to effectively deal with complexity and ambiguity, learn from experience, make investments in leadership and culture, and create stronger internal and external business networks. Resilience is neither a set of principles nor a “destination.” It is a journey that takes place through the practice of risk management and is informed by organizations, people, knowledge, and technology as well as interactions among all these factors. Every day organizational resilience is tested in a world that constantly changes. Resilience is characterized as a strategic objective that is intended to help an organization survive and prosper. A highly resilient organization is more adaptive, competitive, agile, and robust than less resilient organizations. These organizations can anticipate, prepare for, and respond and adapt to everything from minor disruptive events to acute shocks and other effects of uncertainty. Resilience is enhanced by integrating and coordinating the various operational programs that are commonly found in an organizational sustainability program. Resilience is built not only within the organization, but also across its value chains and the larger web of interactions with other organizations.

Dr. Bob Pojasek

Sustainability Legend | ESG Reporting & Disclosures | Uncertainty Risk | Pollution Prevention Expert | Process Improvement | Organizational Sustainability Reporting | Sustainable Procurement Professor

Chairman, Education and Research Executive Board (EREB)

VCARE Academy Inc.

Managing Director

Center for Corporate Performance & Sustainability


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