Does your brand embrace the four pillars of social sustainability: environmental, economic, human & social responsibility? Read on to discover how Sook can help you with these goals.
Ask what sustainability means and most people will be able to give you a reasonable answer, centering around making sure we’re looking after what we’ve got, recycling, lowering consumption, and the environment in general. Future Learn defines sustainability as ‘broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource.’
Of course, the meaning of ‘resource’ doesn’t begin and end with fossil fuels, so the four Pillars of Sustainability are what we need to consider, and Social Sustainability is one of them.
So, to mark this year’s World Health Day, and their focus on human health and wellbeing, we’re taking a look at the pillar that underpins everything we do, here at Sook, and drives us to help communities to thrive.
What are the four Pillars of Sustainability?
The Four Pillars are distinct, yet intertwined, areas of sustainability, and they are:
The one people are most familiar with. Encompassing the protection of our natural resources, such as land, air, water and minerals. The focus is on keeping our environment hospitable, not just for us, but for future generations.
Economic Sustainability aims to improve the standard of living. Our governments do this by trying to make sure our economic growth is stable, and good quality. You can read in more depth about this in the UK Government’s annual report.
Future Learn defines Human Sustainability, as that with an aim ‘to maintain and improve the human capital in society’, or an aim to improve human life. So, investment in healthcare and our schools, improving access to services, promoting better nutrition, and providing opportunities to develop skills are all under this umbrella.
And last but not least…
Social Sustainability aims to preserve the value of our societies, by investing in services and frameworks that help us live together…better. Its ideals are equality, justice, and transparency. At Sook, we are fully behind the idea that strong communities can help the individuals within them to succeed, to be healthy, and to be happy.
How can I embrace Social Sustainability?
If you’re a small business owner, or run something even bigger, you’re in a prime position to implement some impactful changes, or re-evaluate your principles, to become more socially sustainable.
Take Sook’s founder, John Hoyle, as an example. John had over a decade of experience in the commercial property industry. He was on the ground as the high streets continued to decline, by seeing, first-hand, how clunky the process of leasing a shop to an occupier was, and how restrictive it was for them, he knew there had to be a better way.
RMIT University says that ‘Social Sustainability focuses on maintaining and improving social quality with concepts such as cohesion, reciprocity and honesty and the importance of relationships amongst people.’
And so John looked at how he could make the landlord/occupier transaction more open, more transparent, and simpler for everyone involved, Sook being the outcome. A way to democratise access to the high street, so it becomes affordable for independents, and isn’t sitting empty, wasted, as some large holding companies fall out of favour. And so, suddenly, there’s a way where there wasn’t one before. Communities are serviced, offered good quality space that is genuinely fit for any purpose, where they can grow their businesses, or gather socially, or exercise, or work.
So, given that embracing Social Sustainability means acting in a manner that benefits society, here are some ways you can become more socially responsible, both as a business, and an individual:
Do something for others
Whether that’s volunteering, giving to charity, or promoting positive change, think about what you can do to make life better for someone else.
If you’re a business owner, can you subsidise some of your products, introduce discounts for customers who need it, or encourage other people to contribute to someone else’s experience? Like the Suspended Coffee movement, you can use your power for genuine good.
Create meaningful, valuable roles for people
If you’re an employer, are you paying your employees fairly? Are you providing them the opportunity to personally grow and succeed? Are you respecting their rights? Reflect on the people in your personal sphere, or your business, and think about what you could do to improve their lives.
Team up with others
Find like-minded people or businesses and pool your resources. More bodies mean greater impact. At Sook, we’re proud to partner with well-established property owners, such as Grosvenor in London, who see the problem too, and are willing to shake things up to make it better.
Create for good
There will always be a place for products or services that meet basic human needs, or that solve a problem. Starting an idea generation session with these criteria at the top of your page is a great place to start on the path to social sustainability. What can you offer? And who can you offer it to?
Make considered choices
When purchasing, or giving your time, go for people or businesses with a proven track record of social sustainability, or who are putting their money where their mouth is. It might be as simple as checking where something is made, or using services, like Sook, who are coming up with the answers. That way, the people who are doing it, can keep doing it.