How do you define sustainability? Is it grounded in responsible environmental practices, the protection of the environment and resources? Or is it something more?

Increasingly, sustainability has come to represent not only responsible environmental practices, but also responsible social practices, such as providing a safe workplace for employees. Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP, executive director of global corporate safety and health for Johnson Controls, and Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH (UK), EurOSHM, of Global Solutions Inc., told a session at Safety 2013 that sustainability is not a “trend;” it’s becoming a business practice driven by the investment community.

According to Hill and Seabrook, sustainable business practices can make a business and brand better and more profitable. A study by the Aberdeen Group shared by Hill and Seabrook, asked respondents who had responsibility for sustainability strategies at their company. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (71 percent) said that responsibility is assigned to EHS.

According to statistics presented by Hill and Seabrook from a UN study published in 2010, 93 percent of CEOs believe sustainability is crucial to the future success of their companies. Ninety-six percent believe that sustainability must be integrated into the company strategy.

“I’m confident we can all agree about the impact of sustainability to the C-suite,” said Hill.

In an article published in the June issue of Professional Safety, Hill and Seabrook wrote, “Executives are increasingly recognizing that long-term economic growth is not possible unless that growth is socially and environmentally sustainable. Striving for balance among economic progress, social responsibility and environmental protection, usually referred to as the ‘triple bottom line’ approach, can contribute to improving an organization’s competitive advantage.”