A Case for Integrating Sustainable Development Goals with Business Policy
Federation of Indidan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India
When we talk policy, it should not always mean policy making by State actors. Policy of business organizations is a subject of study in the Management discipline. Earlier known as Business Policy, it now goes by the popular name of Strategic Management. Given the need for models that allow businesses to flourish without detracting from the SDGs, the Business Policy discipline must make room for SDGs as overarching goals guiding business strategy development. This means going beyond the usual financial performance focus to think of business as a vehicle to enhance environmental, social, and developmental performance. With today’s dominant business paradigm of profit-maximization, deeper transformations are needed in how business organizations set their own goals and align them with what human societies of today need most.
Despite the advent of green business, green entrepreneurship, ecopreneurship, and the like, there is little uptake of sustainable development considerations at the business policy level. Most success stories about sustainability being good business talk of cost reductions through materials/energy saving, or customer loyalty through sustainability posturing. Most business leaders who claim allegiance to sustainability aren’t fundamentally rethinking their business to increase well-being of the planet and human society. At best, they are merely trying to do less harm while going about their business.
To enable a paradigm shift, business policy development must generate and evaluate strategic options of domain selection (what business to be in) and domain navigation (how to compete in this business) in line with SDGs. Faced with intense competition in the market place, business leaders choose the most attractive industries and/or influence industry structures to make them attractive for themselves. This paper will use basic tools from a typical Strategic Management course curriculum and show how ‘Sustainability-as-a-Strategy’ success stories can help integrate SDGs into business policy fundamentals.