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The Positive Impact of Social Sustainability!
1  Grand Valley State University, Allendale, United States

Published: 09 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Social Sustainability
Abstract: Social sustainability is known as the third leg of the "triple bottom line" of sustainability. It is the most difficult aspect of sustainability to understand in meaningful terms, to describe with specific applications, and to report on with success stories. Environmental stewardship and economic vitality, the other two legs of sustainability, are easier to define with more available and successful case study examples. Social sustainability, however, deals with our most critical daily "quality of life" issues. This paper will address the importance of social sustainability and its impact using an interdisciplinary approach that involves public, private, and academic sector approaches. First of all why is social sustainability so important today? Who is obligated or responsible to address our systemic social sustainability problems? Businesses in the private sector and NGO\'s in the public sector have all been focusing on social responsibility and corporate citizenship. Customers are demanding more of companies than just generating profits for the bottom line. Donors of foundations and NGO\'s want to know more about the impact of their dollar donation and the value that it creates. The roots of social sustainability deal with the premise that organizations have a responsibility to give back to society or the communities in which they operate, such as improving family and children welfare. Businesses and NGO\'s can take several approaches, such as ensuring their activities cause no harm to the environment or community. They can also pursue more proactive approaches, such as providing cash and in-kind contributions. Other organizations continue to raise the bar by adhering to corporate citizenship approaches. A citizenship role reflects more than just participation. It has at its core why as a community are we in this condition in the first place? This approach requires a holistic systems perspective with other community stakeholders to determine root causes. Now a new entity has arrived, social enterprise. Social enterprises are organizations that achieve their social or environmental mission by applying various business systems, processes, and best practices. The structure of these organizations can be either for profit or not for profit. A business can be certified as a B Corporation. There is also the L3 C organization, or Low-profit Limited Liability Company. The importance of social sustainability and its impact can now be seen in companies and organizations that pursue social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and social enterprise strategies. This paper will also provide examples of companies and organizations that have successfully implemented these strategies.
Keywords: corporate citizenship, social enterprise, social sustainability