The future of business: Why sustainability matters | Inquirer Business
Mapping The Future

The future of business: Why sustainability matters

05:02 AM July 08, 2019

Today’s world has become a most chaotic place. Daily disruptions are the norm, and even the most agile of businesses and individuals are struggling to cope with this blitzkrieg of changes.

Business leaders are left pondering a future where uncertainties are the only certain and playing by the old rules can no longer work.


Consider these new realities: Global imbalances continue to widen, sparking massive discontent and conflict. Incomes continue to rise, yet poverty’s grip is stronger than ever.

READ: Why Does Your Business Need PR Wire?


Technology amplified the world’s inequity and inequality. In this interconnected globe, people witness how prosperity has been limited to the few in real time, fanning anger and dissatisfaction.

Almost every day, social media comes alive with netizens angered by the latest display of arrogance, abuse or incompetence by those in power, be it someone disregarding traffic rules or somebody spewing out half-truths as a result of ignorance or brazen politicking.

There is the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is bringing about seismic changes in the geopolitical, economic, technological, social and ecological realms as the locus of power shifts continuously. The economic displacement that artificial intelligence can bring about is a hotly discussed topic, yet how many can say they are truly prepared for it?

It is no wonder that trust levels for governments have plummeted to unheard-of lows, and people are casting their sights to the other end of the spectrum in the hope that they will get answers where the present systems and institutions are failing them. Amid quickly shifting views and different versions of the truth, will business be a friend or a foe? Or will we see the rise of new brand of leaders who are willing to embrace the call for inclusive development and changed paradigms?

There are game-changing opportunities that these emerging realities bring.

Businesses can play it faster and smarter, as they compete with newer, fleet-footed enterprises run by a new breed of tech-savvy, innovative entrepreneurs, to meet the evolving needs of customers. But will these be enough?

In this transformed new world, leaders have to realize that the business equation is no longer a simple arithmetic of revenues and profits. A company that does so much business yet pays no regard to people or the environment will lose the goodwill of its customers—and fast. Just look at how the Boracay closure and cleanup turned out, with no one coming to support the polluters.


Inevitably, a new reality will emerge. To survive, businesses need to accept that they must do good, not just look good. They need to define a higher purpose beyond just profits. They must drive social change, not just shareholder value. Sustainability, impact and development—they will be the yardsticks which will determine whether businesses will still be in the future.

The future of business requires thinking about doing the unthinkable—putting the goals of equitable and inclusive development on the same plane as profitability targets. Business prosperity must be measured in terms of how the individuals who enable productivity and creativity are enjoying the fruits of their contribution.

Business goals will have to evolve. The measures of organizational success should be expanded to activities that engage their communities, and espouse ethical practices that do no harm to people, the planet and society.

For now, all these may seem too big, too radical and too ambiguous but then that kind of thinking might just be the reason why sustainability, development, and impact remain elusive. But not for long; these “big” words are slowly yet steadily unfolding. Those who will not take steps to be part of this changing narrative might just become the case studies of how the failure to act with foresight can lead to business extinction.

The 2019 Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) International CEO Conference aims to be part of this journey to a new business future. It will provide a forum to jump-start discussions and help business leaders find answers to these burning questions. Through the experts sharing their views, we can expand the arsenal of strategies and options that will help us all survive and live to share our stories.

The MAP Conference will feature a session on strengths strategies for optimal living, zeroing in on people equation and strategies that produce the most significant increases in energy, performance and relationships. A panel discussion on doing the unthinkable provides experiences from the successes of those who chose business pathways anchored in social agenda as well as discussions that delve into the new fortune that can be found at the bottom of the pyramid.

Savvy leaders recognize that sustainability and social impact will be the future of business. The Sept. 10 MAP CEO Conference offers an opportunity to be informed with the ongoing conversations as inputs to mapping the future of our organizations.

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