What Are The Three Pillars of a Sustainable Business?

what are the three pillars of a sustainable business
Nasir Khan

Nasir Khan

What are the three pillars of a sustainable business? These 3 elements might just make or break your business

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Sustainability, as per the Brundtland Report, is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

When it comes to sustainability- it’s now a core issue for many business organisations across the world. That’s why when you visit any company website, you’ll find a section dedicated to the company’s actions surrounding sustainable development.  

But it doesn’t mean that the Concept of Sustainability isn’t new. The term “sustainable development” was first mentioned inside a report published by IUCN in the year 1980. Soon afterwards, the official or worldwide recognised definition of “sustainable development” arrived in “Brundtland Report” published by UNWED in 1987. 

Having said all this, the sustainability concept is built around what’s called its three pillars or the triple bottom line. A solution oriented approach to solve all kinds of complex sustainability issues. 

what are the three pillars of a sustainable business
photo credit: Unsplash

What Are The Three Pillars of a Sustainable Business?


Environment, Economic and Social

When we talk about sustainability, it’s not just about being friendly to the environment by planting trees or reducing pollution, but it incorporates other factors also. Namely, Economic and Social.

Furthermore, the three pillars of sustainability are not mutually exclusive but are intertwined with each other – one affects the others in some way or the other. 

Now, let’s look into these three pillars in more detail.

green partnership
photo credit: BioHygiene

The Environment Pillar

The environment pillar is all about saving or caring for the environment. It encourages everyone, individuals and organisations, to judiciously use natural resources to reduce their wastage, reduce pollution and work towards all sorts of initiatives for a greener and clean earth.

If you’re a company, then you must note that planning down and integrating environmental targets into your management goals is an integral part of what is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

And as a firm, you can start working on building the environmental pillar by reducing your waste and energy consumption wherever possible. Promote zero or organic packaging to eliminate the need for plastics. Though it will cost you a bit initially, still opt for Energy Efficient appliances for saving energy in a longer run. And go with renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydraulic for all your energy needs.

Working to save the environment and planet will also contribute towards financial growth as saving energy will also save costs for you. Likewise, reducing wastage of resources will result in less expenditure and thus more savings. And all these benefits aren’t just reserved for an individual or an organisation, but will ultimately pass on to others also resulting in the overall well being of the society.

what are the three pillars of a sustainable business? economic
photo credit: Unsplash

The Economic Pillar

The economic pillar stands for “profitability”, which is perhaps the favourite subject for any business corporation. So yes, as a business, you have a right to be profitable when we talk about making your business more sustainable.

And not merely profitability, but the economic factor incorporates the complete corporate governance inside it. That’s why it’s also called the governance pillar. It wants organisations to abide by government policies and to be transparent in the accounting process.

The economic pillar is important to run the business, which is quite an obvious thing. Besides, it also assists in making the business more environmentally sustainable as well. Because then only companies would be able to invest in sustainable measures without any hesitation.

With an aim to make your business more profitable, you’ll also work upon better resource management like opting for energy saving measures and reducing wastage, which in turn will save our environment. 

Lastly, better economic growth will create more job opportunities for the youth which will result in overall well being of the society, and will contribute to the social pillar, about which we are going to look ahead.

what are the three pillars of a sustainable business? social
photo credit; Unsplash

The Social Pillar

The Social Pillar of sustainable business asks corporations to be socially responsible by paying attention to employee benefits, which they can do by paying them well, by giving reasonable deadlines to their work and by providing family and maternity benefits. 

You can provide them with the option of remote working that’ll help manage their personal and professional lives better. This is also about encouraging your employees to remain fit and healthy. 

All this in turn will also contribute towards our Economic and environmental pillar as well because well compensated and healthy employees will be motivated to perform well, and when people will improve their diet by cutting down their meat consumption, this’ll also reduce their carbon footprint, as animal products are the major contributors of GHG emissions resulting from food.

These were some efforts inside your business. Outside your business premises, you can contribute towards social sustainability by choosing like minded partners or suppliers that align with the sustainable corporate goals as similar to you.


The three pillars of sustainability- Social, Environmental and Economic – act as a framework to implement solutions for the complex sustainability issues.

These pillars form an integral part of socially responsible firms or firms who work upon their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

As a business, you must try to implement their pillars in their respective areas to make this planet more sustainable and a healthy place to live in.


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