The paper below discusses several key concepts related to sustainable development that were studied during the course. The concepts examined include the importance of institutional transparency, clean water availability, adaptive capacity to climate hazards, and responsible use of natural resources. They also include the importance of universal well-being and healthcare and partnerships when applied to sustainable development. The Support Healthcare Staffing Agency is used as a reference point for the instances of critical analysis of said issues. SHSA’s existing performance within the relevant issues is examined through the framework established by the analysis, with additional recommendations provided afterward. Finally, a conclusion is designed in relation to SHSA’s overall relationship with the sustainability framework, as demonstrated by the chosen factors.
The company used for the purposes of this assignment is the Support Healthcare Staffing Agency, also known as one of the top recruiters in the healthcare field. It aids healthcare institutions in acquiring top talents for the provision of high-class medical services worldwide. The firm operates as a matchmaker and has helped thousands of medical professionals to secure productive employment positions. It is a perfect pick for the assignment questions since its established position within the healthcare industry positions it close to the current issues of universal well-being. Based on its reports and social media activity, the firm is committed to sustainable development principles and tends to uphold them in its general operations. However, a closer analysis might be needed in accordance with the course contents. This paper critically analyses the most important current issues within the sustainable development framework, examines the SHSA’s approach to it, and provides appropriate recommendations.
Developing effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels
Critical analysis of the issue
It is critically important to develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions to promote peaceful and inclusive societies. The sustainable approach to constituting a framework has been majorly discussed in recent years. Despite its popularity, its success has been fairly limited, and the adjacent eco-practices “are insufficient in themselves to deliver the holistic changes necessary to achieve long-term social and environmental sustainability” (Bocken, et al., 2013, p. 42). However, the planet is in a state of emergency, as the human society currently uses the resource equivalent to “1.5 planets” (Bocken, et al., 2013, p. 42). Evidently, raising awareness about sustainable, ecology-friendly, and innovative practices has already become a pressing issue that demands imminent attention.
While an increasing number of businesses are adopting sustainable patterns of management and production, their attempts are not up to the required standard. Even if sustainable businesses do exist, “the impact of their activities is not reflected in studies monitoring the state of the planet” (Dyllick and Muff, 2015, p. 1). This results in a big disconnect – a situation where the current body of research does not reflect the actual practices of the companies accurately (Dyllick and Muff, 2015). Therefore, a paradigm shift is required not only in the internal structure of a company but in the business’s eagerness to communicate its victories and faults.
The current environmental situation, as well as the greater portion of the world’s most pressing problems, aligning with SDGs, are demanding of companies to be more accountable and transparent. Businesses are the top contributors to climate change, as on a mass-production scale, violations of environmental guidelines are frequent. Climate change is certainly one of the main reasons companies and manufacturers need to be held accountable for their actions, as climate change affects multiple aspects of the environmental state, which certainly projects onto human society. Hunt and Watkiss (2011) explain climate change effects as being: sea-level rise, extreme events on built infrastructure (“floods, windstorms, heat extremes”), effects on water availability, energy usage, and, undoubtingly, on human health (p. 15). Human actions, typically driven by profit, have disrupted the environmental stability that has been in place “for 10,000 years”, causing the installment of a new geological era – the Anthropocene (Rockstrom, 2009, p. 472). Current irreversible environmental effects and climate change, as well as the history of carelessness in resource usage, are the prime reasons for companies to be more transparent going forward.
Support HealthCare Staffing Agency (SHSA) has embedded the SDG framework into its business model. Why it is safe to say that achieving compliance is difficult to sustain. Building an inclusive organization requires that staff members uphold high standards of Compassion, Accountability, Reliability, Caring, and Well-Being, which is not possible without the basis of trust. Thus, the SHSA is able to achieve transparency, accountability, and effectiveness through public policy, information accessibility, public participation, and staff training.
- To address the leadership in an organization or community since it is the vector-defining aspect of operational management. Leadership shapes resource management, as “successful companies should never substitute the exploitation of natural capital” (Blowfield, 2013). Thus, the leadership should be adjusted first-hand if one is pursuing ERS in their work.
- To make sure that personal values align with the SDGs, as it is only through honesty and transparency can a trustworthy relationship arise with the rest of its members. It is important to make sure that the core principle of a sustainable organization is followed – that is, remaining honest with oneself and with society.
- To introduce training to encourage responsible, ethical compliance with the organization. This will enable the organization to align more with the ideals of Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability paradigm (Blowfield, 2013). Creating social awareness about climate change will educate the staff about climate emergencies.
Achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
Critical analysis of the issue
Water is evidently a sustenance to human existence, with safe drinking water lying on the basis of essential human needs. The deficit of clean water becomes more evident each year, and as with most ecological disasters, human intervention with nature is at the center of the problem. While World Health Organization, according to Martinez-Santos (2017, p.2), acknowledges that “the number of people using safe water supplies has been over-estimated”, it still does not present an accurate representation of the situation. It is now known that chemical water pollutants, like “aluminum, arsenic, barium, manganese, lead, copper, uranium, lithium, nitrate and fluoride” caused the most severe episodes of mass poisoning in history (Martinez-Santos, 2017, p. 6). These chemical compounds come from industrial waste poured into the surrounding water bodies and causing dangerous contamination.
However, according to Ibisi and Asoluka (2019), new, sustainable, and innovative solutions are already in the stage of implementation. Their study proposes the usage of agricultural waste as a “sustainable biosorbent for toxic metal ions removal from contaminated water” (Ibisi and Asoluka, 2019, p. 52). Numerous attempts have been made to grant the implementation of such emergency innovations being taken, and critical analysis of these solutions may provide a platform for clean water.
Stakeholders’ influence is also part of the human-caused water degradation. According to Mitchell et al. (1997) go into great depth of explaining the stakeholder theory as well as describing stakeholders’ role, but in short, stakeholders are anyone involved in business activity, voluntarily or not. Furthermore, according to Osobajo and Moore (2017), the relationship between a company and its stakeholders is double-sided. Stakeholders are profit-driven groups, and their interests are projected in the company’s policies and activities to the detriment of the populace (Osobajo and Moore, 2017). To achieve water sustainability, responsibility and mutual influence first must be ensured.
Stakeholders’ responsibility must come with their action and their duty to society. It is critical to say clean water for all is one of such responsibilities. As illuminated in the Rockstrom’s study, the planet has already reached a boundary that is driving it to imminent ecological degradation. To quote Sternberg (2017, p. 9) “a responsibility by stakeholders, to act so that their values concerning society are reflected in their actions”. With great power comes great responsibility, therefore being a stakeholder does not mean mere dependence only, but also a means to alter the business’ behavior.
Support Healthcare Staffing Agency is a company that is deeply concerned with human and societal well-being. By logical extension, the firm has an ideological stake in ensuring the sufficient availability of safe drinking water for all that require it. Currently, the organization lacks initiatives on that front and would benefit from directing its attention to the issue. The current situation in the company leaves much room for further improvement, achievable either through educational means or policy optimization.
- To get involved in supporting and promoting the clear water initiatives in their local community. With information at their disposal, communities can make informed decisions about sanitizing their environment and drinking safe and clean water (Martinez-Santos, 2017). This can be achieved by providing information through a seminar, training, and societal awareness.
- To remain transparent and vocal about efforts to affect the water issue, however, it should not make it a marketing strategy. As Kolk (2016) stated, operational sustainability is inseparable from environmental responsibility in organizations. The organization’s reports should remain true to reality and accompanied by the willingness to provide further information upon request.
- To ensure their efforts in relation to safe drinking water are upheld internally by designing and implementing appropriate policies. This can be done through educating the employees about the importance of the clean, drinkable water situation, the installment of charity boxes, the endorsement of water-conscious events and lectures.
Strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards in a region
Critical analysis of the issue
As it relates to urban development, my region is faced with various climate-related hazards, some of which threaten the sustainability and existence of inhabitants of that environment. An in-depth analysis on this issue reveals the need to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of my region in order to combat the climate-related hazards, such as fires or tornados. As corroborated by Howard-Greenville et al. 2014 – the planet’s global mean surface has risen slightly less than one degree since the late 19th century. At the current rate, it is expected to escalate further by the end of the current century.
These statistics in global temperature rise, coupled with the effects the cities act as a catalyst for, described by Hunt and Watkiss, constitute a reason for the urgent reinforcement of adaptive capacity and resilience on a local level. The rise in temperature also impacts sea-level rise. Evidence of these is seen in coastal cities, infrastructures, health through food, water, and atmosphere change, and water-availability-related effects (Hunt & Watkiss, 2010). These negative effects are now present in many people’s lives, which is exactly why imminent measures need to be taken.
To combat this climate related hazards, adaptive capacity and resilience initiatives must be followed, and it must be demonstrated through our business ethics and responsibility in order to achieve our target for sustainability. As Williams and Preston (2020) explain, the core idea about personal values: the way an individual perceives the issues will directly reflect in their beliefs. This is a critically important point that would set the vector for future interventions since it is crucial to take the nature of values into account (Crick, 2017). Therefore, the collective responsibility as a citizen in any region is vital. One should build an adaptive capability that will evolve as climate changes occur, facilitating the introduction of appropriate measures.
Our region should approach climate-related hazards with resiliency. Urban development planning should be done with hazards resiliency in mind. Crick (2017) writes that the effect that the private sector endures and will continue to endure stimulates it in direct and indirect ways. Therefore, resiliency and adaptive capacity should be built from the combination of an in-depth understanding of the issue, willingness to act, and utilization of personal values. In the long-term perspective, the emphasis on adaptability and swift reactions in policymaking will pay off by the existence of appropriate protection mechanisms in place.
It is suitable to note that Support Healthcare Staffing Agency (SHSA) has not implemented any strategies concerning adaptive capacity and resilience to counter climate change and its consequences. At present, the issue of climate-related hazards has never been approached with the urgency they require. The Management team has not lived up to its responsibility when it comes to climate change, and the members of staff do not know or understand their civic responsibility as well.
- To recognize main hazard types in accordance with the region’s geographical location and ecological profile. According to Bocken et al. (2014), rational consumption is the characteristic feature of the road to true sustainability. SHSA as a stakeholder to the community, must be involved in developing hazard mitigation.
- To implement and maintain technological equipment to provide insight into the present climate condition and develop estimated predictions. As Bocken et al. (2014) state, the installment of such a system is a prominent feature of an organization striving towards sustainability. Therefore, SHSA and other stakeholders must be able to use this information to address the impact of climate-related hazards in our region.
- To aim for the long-term sustainable agenda, avoiding the mono focus on the profit of short-term perspective (Scheyvens et al., 2016). An organization striving for a sustainable future needs to rework its business model, taking into consideration ERS and the climate change influence.
Responsible Consumption and Production
Critical analysis of the issue
SDG12 Responsible Consumption and Production aims to stabilize and limit the use of natural environment and resources. It addresses the plethora of important issues, including uneven production and consumption of food, unsustainable water use, emissions of pollutants/waste, and land degradation (Hunt and Watkiss, 2011). Williams (2018) argues that the revised ISO14001:2015 standard promotes environmental management based on self-direction and achievement values that make a difference in the long term by finding innovative solutions. Scheyvens et al. (2016) indicate the growing need for responsible and sustainable practices for businesses. However, they also point at the industry complicity, short-term planning, the soft language of business responsibility, and lack of appropriate legislation. Meijaard and Sheil (2019) also reveal the challenging world of sustainable development using the palm oil issue as an example. The latter simultaneously violates SDG15 and helps to end poverty and improve food production and consumption.
Nevertheless, even profit-seeking organizations are currently expected to focus their activities on SDG goals. Gerten et al. (2020) found that some opportunities based on sustainable food production and consumption management may help overcome current PB transgressions and supply more than 10 billion people with sufficient food. What is more, Scott et al. (2018) advocate for material productivity measures that have the potential to reduce the anticipated emissions deficit. There is also a problem with various waste types due to uneven production in different regions that threaten the current ecosystem. For instance, United Nations Environment Programme (2020) points at landfills of food and plastic waste in West Africa and Indonesia. The latter induce adverse outcomes to human health and wellbeing, including vision failure, cancers, skin diseases, and reproductive issues (Proshad et al., 2020). It is essential to address the plastic waste problem with proper regulations in production and use. Ixmeier and Kranz (2020) identified that consumers are ready to pay an additional fee if producers of electronic devices follow eco-design principles. It means that customers currently endorse and value sustainable activities centered on reuse and disposal.
All mentioned sources present both limitations and opportunities for enterprises in their environmental responsibility. They indicate that humanity’s bright future is strongly associated with the efficient use of natural resources and sustainable management worldwide. In this case, the role of SMEs and large companies becomes even more critical. It is essential to balance social responsibility and profit maximization activities to contribute to SDG12 and maintain a positive brand image.
At present, Support Healthcare Staffing Agency (SHSA) does not have a blueprint nor implemented a policy for the responsible consumption of natural resources. The staff members have displayed a lack of knowledge about their civic responsibility. Their car fleet still uses natural gas for business activities. Current waste management (food and office garbage) does not consider the 3R model (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). The company lacks involvement in local environmental CSR initiatives and community activism.
- To implement a waste management policy based on 3Rs. The organization should avoid the consumption of over-packaged goods, use durable products, and reuse some products for the same purpose or differently (Scheyvens et al., 2016). Moreover, the company may buy office equipment made from recycled materials and introduce an internal waste sorting policy.
- To adjust its current policies with the eco-design of 8Rs (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, refurbish, repair, repurpose and recycle). SHSA standards and procedures should incorporate this tool into its business model to use less packaging in general and switch to eco-friendly one (Monteiro et al., 2019). In addition, the company should introduce KPI to monitor monthly waste generation.
- To influence decisions made within the organizations that form its supply chain using its leading position in the industry to advance sustainable development (Williams, 2018). It should encourage other organizations to support its waste management and responsible consumption initiatives.
Achieving universal health coverage and access to quality essential health-care services
Critical analysis of the issue
Universal health coverage lies at the core of the third goal of global sustainable development, namely Good Health and Well-Being, and can be thus analyzed within the topical three frameworks. Despite medicine having progressed at an increasing rate within the last century, progress within and between countries remains uneven. Financial and social inequalities on personal and structural levels often negatively affect the population’s access to the existing healthcare services (Scott et al., 2018). At the same time, those who are most vulnerable and least equipped to get the proper healthcare are often among those who need it the most. Poverty and social prejudice create barriers for the most vulnerable groups of patients while simultaneously taking a consistent toll on their health. Within the business ethics framework, universal healthcare is unmistakable good, ensuring the proper services are provided even to the disadvantaged amongst an organization’s employees.
The responsibility-focused approach to the third goal demands structural and consistent attention to all areas of healthcare at all areas globally. Currently, the healthcare services worldwide are still in the middle of one of the largest pandemics of the century and are experiencing severe stress (Jameson, Song, and Pecht, 2015). A responsible approach to the goal requires resources are allocated to this largest threat without concern for potential international boundaries. Those who incorporate the well-being principle into their operations are attentive to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on both the global economy and human lives worldwide. Yet, on the other hand, responsibility demands a support system is allocated to the other areas of healthcare, especially considering health centers being re-purposed as COVID hospitals. It is essential that sustainable development-oriented businesses ensure their support for healthcare initiatives in times of global crisis.
Finally, a sustainability-oriented framework requires universal healthcare, as it is the most efficient way to ensure general health and well-being amongst the population at large. Ensuring healthy and productive lives in harmony with one’s body and environment is necessary for building prosperous societies. By investing in medical initiatives and sanitization, a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of people can be achieved. Due to the inaccessibility of healthcare globally, even the smallest of contributions carried out by the companies have the potential to become life-changing. With this in mind, such initiatives can boost internal morale within an organization, as well as the general level of employee’s personal satisfaction. But most importantly, sustainable healthcare is beneficial to the global community, and it’s every individual member.
Support HealthCare Staffing Agency focuses on healthcare recruiting and matching the industry’s top professionals with its top organizations. The agency aids in qualified healthcare specialists working worldwide, thus providing their services to a wide range of people internationally. Their attention to detail and talent requirements facilitate long-term productive partnerships and increase the quality of the healthcare provided. The international profile SHSA possesses aids it in developing a global network of healthcare excellence.
- To develop additional products and services to counter the negative impact of social inequalities on healthcare access, to introduce special programs for low-budget healthcare institutions or professionals. To recognize the system’s favor towards the more privileged groups of people and partner with governments or charity organizations to design low-income options.
- To acknowledge the existing gender and racial bias within the healthcare industry and consciously challenge them. As a recruiting service, the agency has the capacity to undermine the unfair status quo by recommending more racially or gender marginalized candidates to the top employers, by extension benefiting the patients from these groups.
- To develop and implement blind interview tools, thus countering the potential bias throughout the recruitment process of the firm and its partners alike. To market said innovations as a deliberate and decisive response to the existing inequalities and commitment to making a lasting impact on the healthcare industry worldwide.
Enhancing partnerships for sustainable development
Critical analysis of the issue
Business ethics is concerned with a firm’s reliability and transparency in deals and partnerships, which are seen as the core of the image of a trustworthy company. A firm with successful partnerships on any grounds is perceived as capable of rising above its most immediate interests and working with another entity to achieve a common objective (Hunt and Watkiss, 2010). Such actions are viewed as desirable within the business ethics field, as they are the opposite of inherently unethical behavior (Rust, 1998). Unethical behavior would involve sabotaging the interests of a partnering firm outside of the direct competitive environment. Thus by committing to the opposite of unethical behavior, sustainable development partnerships are inherently ethical. They contribute to an organization’s morally positive image and make a statement by the existence alone.
Responsibility demands a business does not overstate its capacity and existing resources, never failing to consider and often prioritize its goal of generating profit. Some of the most impressive environmental and sustainable initiatives are charity-oriented and do not contribute to the firm’s financial well-being. In fact, quite the opposite is often the case, with sustainability-related budgets growing from year to year. On this note, partnerships might decrease the toll the commitment to the global sustainable development principles may have on a firm’s finances. Responsible business management involves continuous balancing between the interests of various stakeholders, many of which contradict each other in their demands. By partnering with another firm on sustainable development grounds, a manager might get access to valuable expertise (Ghisellini, Cialani, and Ulgiati, 2016). Productivity is further ensured by sharing similar needs and goals in both maximizing the positive impact for the environment and achieving good publicity for an organization.
Sustainable development as a framework considers the impact corporations have on a larger society and the ways in which this impact can be turned positive. However, as with any other global initiative, it can’t significantly benefit from a few positive agents if the overall business environment remains countered to the outlined principles (Bocken et al., 2014). Consecutively, it is not enough for even a few big corporations to undertake the approach, and the entire model of doing business must be revolutionized accordingly. By definition, this leads to recognizing the importance of partnerships when aiming to achieve the sustainable development framework (Howard-Grenville et al., 2014). Only through a consistent and shared common effort might the business landscape maximize its positive impact on society at large and counter the pre-existing harm it had generated.
Support HealthCare Staffing Agency currently has multiple partners worldwide and regularly works together with healthcare institutions. It is important to state, however, that the firm in question is a recruiting agency, and such partnerships lie at the core of its service. Consecutively, such partnerships, although numerous, do not qualify for the purposes of the question and factor as firm-consumer relationships. Currently, there is no publicly available information on any non-commercial sustainability-focused partnerships of the company.
- To partner with other organizations in the field non-commercially on the grounds of the shared commitment to sustainable development principles. To be open to collaborations with competitors and learn to focus on how the firms could benefit each other, avoiding unnecessary hostility that could reduce the efficiency of an agreement.
- To encourage its candidates to obtain and include non-commercial work experiences in their CVs. As a recruitment company, the firm has the potential to facilitate access of well-rounded, inspired professionals to the new employment spots. Partial prioritization of the candidates with volunteer experiences is justified since said experiences often demonstrate team spirit.
- To promote a partnership-oriented approach within the firm, eliminating unnecessary competition and ensuring the fair distribution of opportunities to avoid conflict and ensure reasonable meritocracy. To monitor the communication channels balancing the need for functional safety and avoidance of censorship, effectively encouraging measured criticism exchange.
Overall, the company demonstrates impressive results in relation to its commitment to sustainable development practices. It recognizes the importance of the principles and the impact they may have as one of the leading recruiters in the medical field. Further improvements are needed in the areas of partnerships and natural resources management, as those have not yet been fully addressed by the management team. However, the company is fully aware of its impact on universal well-being and committed to doing its community justice. It can be said that the Support Healthcare Staffing Agency is an example of a sustainable organization.
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