Although variations on the definition of sustainability abound, one of the more common definitions comes from the 1987 Brundtland Report: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In the business context, we often think of sustainability in terms of office practices that reduce our environmental impact. Although this is a critical aspect of creating a sustainable future, a recent conversation with colleagues in the legal profession got us thinking about workplace sustainability in a broader context. The idea was that personnel policies—such as flexible schedules for working parents, mentoring programs, focusing on professional development, and even vacation and sick leave policies all contribute to maintaining a sustainable business.
When you think about it, it makes sense. For-profit companies meet their present owners’ needs by maximizing profits. However, using the Brundtland definition, this is not sustainable if it compromises future generations’ needs. Sure, working your employees to the breaking point with little promise of reward, recognition, or advancement may be profitable in the short term. But particularly in service-oriented companies (accounting, architecture, and law firms, for example), today’s employees are often tomorrow’s owners. Treat your employees well today, retain those employees for the long term, and ensure the future success of your business.
At Northwest Business Law Group, sustainability is one of our core values and we incorporate its concepts into everything we do. We love to work with clients who share our values, and invite you to contact us to find out how we can work toward a sustainable future for your business.