Many businesses such as SEO companies follow sustainability guidelines in their offices because they know it is likely to reduce their costs and because they can point to the fact as a way to get more customers and an improved reputation. This is all good and in Australia especially, where there are fair rules and regulations regarding employment, we don’t see a lot of what the lack of sustainability in business can actually do to employees.
In many other countries where no such regulations exist, businesses do not follow ethical practices, especially in what they provide – or rather, don’t provide – for their workers. Abominably low wages and terrible working conditions are the sad lot of such employees, who struggle to make enough for their families to eat, let alone have decent clothing, healthcare and education.
Sustainability would change such business practices and very often end up costing those businesses much more, whereas in Australia where operating costs are already high we have the opposite effect, that of reducing costs. Here it is not so much about paying employees a better wage, but reducing waste, recycling where possible and encouraging workers to take steps towards wellness by adopting lifestyle changes that make them healthier.
This can save a business a great deal in terms of fewer sick days, lower health insurance premiums and of course, reduced running costs through savings in energy, fuel and water consumption. While there may be unnoticed ‘sweat shops’ where the hours are long and conditions and wages very poor, it is not the normal thing in our lucky country.
Sustainability can also be about saving by outsourcing work rather than employing someone full time if there is not enough work to keep them busy. While it could be said that outsourcing means one less job for someone, it also mean one more job for a person who is more likely to work from home and thus, be more sustainable themselves, in the pursuit of their business.
Outsourcing can save a business a great deal since they don’t have to pay sick leave or holidays for the person they outsource to. It can mean their office can be smaller with fewer employees, so they are saving on rental and equipment in their office, since they don’t have to provide a desk and computer for that person.
So as well as other environmentally friendly practices that also save on costs, choosing ‘green’ solutions brings many benefits to any business. Except for those who work outside the law by running sweat shops or who offer underpaid work to their employees. Such businesses could certainly stand to take a long hard look at their own practices and think about how sustainable they may be as the world becomes more about sustainability than slave labour.