What is social sustainability and why is it on every company’s agenda?

What is social sustainability and why should your business be focusing on it? We take a look at the definition, benefits and strategies.

3 min read time | Mar 5, 2024 | Written by: Weavabel
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Sustainability is a broad term that covers all kinds of areas, including society. But what is social sustainability? And why should you take the time to learn more and invest in social sustainability strategies for your business?

In this blog, we define social sustainability, outline its benefits and discuss how businesses can deploy the right tactics to meet social sustainability goals.

  • What is social sustainability?
  • What are the benefits of social sustainability?
  • How can you achieve social sustainability?
  • Sustainability in the fashion industry


What is social sustainability?

There are typically three pillars of sustainability — environmental, economic and social. We regularly discuss the environmental aspect and its impact on the fashion, homeware and sportswear industries, but what is social sustainability? And why does it matter for businesses?

Social sustainability directly relates to people, particularly the impacts a business has, negatively or positively. It’s a crucial aspect of overall corporate responsibility and covers welfare and equality.

For example, fair labour practices, community engagement, and diversity and inclusion programmes are all aspects of social sustainability.


What are the benefits of social sustainability?

Incorporating social sustainability into your organisational plans has many benefits, which is why it’s on the agenda for many companies. Some of these benefits include:


Societal benefits:

  • Improved working conditions: Many CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives focus on decent working conditions and fair labour practices. Society can benefit from this by having access to fair and safe jobs.
  • Reduced inequality and prejudice: Social sustainability aims to reduce disparities, whether financial, racial or gender-related, making the workplace fair for all.
  • Stronger communities: When businesses invest in social sustainability, the resulting practices foster strong bonds within the community through collaboration and solidarity.


Business benefits:

  • Enhanced brand reputation: Investing in core social needs can result in a positive reputation with consumers and stakeholders, further boosting income, loyalty and trust.
  • Increased employee satisfaction and retention: Employees who feel valued and invested in by their company are more satisfied at work, making them want to stay in their roles longer.
  • Boosted relationships with stakeholders: Demonstrating a commitment to social issues and sustainability builds stronger relationships with investors, communities, consumers and employees.
  • Attract conscious consumers: Today’s consumers are eco-aware and often only engage with businesses that align with their values. Investing in social sustainability makes you much more likely to attract a wider range of consumers.

sustainable fashion


How can you achieve social sustainability?

Whether you’re looking to incorporate social sustainability into your business strategy or boost your current practices, here are some tips on making a meaningful contribution to society.

Start by making social sustainability a core part of your operations. Put it front and centre of your planning to integrate within your overall business objectives. A trickle-down approach will ensure all stakeholders invest in the common goal.

Collaborative relationships will get you a long way when investing in social sustainability. Capitalise on the insights, skills and partnerships of stakeholders, employees, governing bodies and communities.

A crucial element of social sustainability is transparency. Be clear when communicating about your initiatives — both good and bad news. Sharing progress and outcomes displays commitment and integrity to social sustainability.

Finally, your social sustainability initiatives and goals will never stand still, so you shouldn’t either. Continuous improvement and monitoring will be needed to ensure you stay on track with your social sustainability practices.


Sustainability in the fashion industry

Sustainability impacts almost every aspect of businesses today, including fashion. To learn more about sustainability in fashion and how you can make a change, download our ‘Making fashion sustainable’ guide.

sustainable fashion


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