Social sustainability activities focus on maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with employees, suppliers, customers and the wider community.

Social bottom line

The social bottom line is the outcome of a businesses’ social sustainability practices. It is the measurement of ‘profits’ in terms of human capital.

Social sustainability is related to how we make choices that affect other humans in our global community. It covers the broadest aspects of business operations and the effect that they have on employees, suppliers, investors, local and global communities and customers. Social sustainability is also related to more basic needs of happiness, safety, freedom, dignity and self-esteem.

Social sustainability

Your social bottom line is increased by having fair and beneficial labour practices, as well as a positive involvement in the community. If your business is not nurturing positive relationships with your staff and the wider community, your customer and employee base suffers accordingly.

Social bottom line questions the idea that the less a business pays its work force, the longer it can afford to operate. Instead, the social bottom line measures the long-term sustainability of the businesses human capital. Business interests and societal interests are seen as interdependent.

Social sustainability is focused on the development of programs and processes that promote social interaction and cultural enrichment. It emphasises protecting the vulnerable, respecting social diversity and ensuring that we all put priority on the health of our societies.

Social bottom line reporting

Social sustainability is a somewhat subjective effort with often intangible benefits and therefore social bottom line is more difficult to measure. However the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has developed guidelines to enable businesses to report and measure their social impact including the following factors:

  • Employment
  • Labor/Management Relations
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Training and Education
  • Diversity and Equal Opportunity
  • Non-discrimination
  • Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
  • Human Rights Assessment
  • Local Communities
  • Supplier Social Assessment
  • Public Policy
  • Customer Health Safety
  • Marketing and Labeling
  • Customer Privacy