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What is Social Sustainability?

Social sustainability occurs when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life.” – WACOSS, Western Australia Council of Social Services*

While businesses are not solely responsible for building healthy communities, they can help immensely by using the power the industrial world has to push governments towards a socially sustainable world. Businesses are responsible for much more than just their employees, and how satisfied their final consumer is.

The quality of the relationship between the company and each person responsible for delivering the final product to the end consumer is critical. If the relationship is too one-sided at any point in the chain (think of children working in factories for a dollar a day), then the company is failing at practicing social sustainability. 

To make healthier communities around the world, companies must be equitable in every step they take. Whether they understand this or not, businesses have a direct or indirect impact on employees, workers at all levels of the value chain, customers, and their local communities. 

Firms practicing socially sustainable methods leads to healthier communities — and the opposite. A company that treats each step of the value chain as an important and valuable person will work harder to practice social sustainability, and in turn impact their communities in a positive way. 

How businesses can help:

  1. Find ways to make your community healthier: offer decent jobs, goods and services that help fill people’s daily needs.
  2. Use a value chain that practices sustainable commerce. 
  3. Partner with other businesses (like Reforestree) to pool strengths and help lead the industrial world to a more sustainable path.
  4. Make social investments and promote public policies that help local communities be healthy.
  5. Join the Sustainable Commerce Society International at Reforestree, to band together with businesses around the world who want to lead the way in sustainability.

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