Ubuntu, a philosophy towards sustainability

On a recent trip to Sierra Leone in Africa, I was reminded of the Ubuntu philosophy that originated in South Africa, which is based on loyalty to people and the relationships we form. It is a way of thinking that departs from individualism and favors teamwork with respect and honesty to achieve greater results.

If we transfer this philosophy of life to companies, we could say that an organization with ubuntu is one that strives for a more sustainable way of subsistence, which means basing its actions and relationships on principles such as integrity, responsibility, respect and trust, and working together. It is an organization that values everything it is, everything that surrounds it and, consequently, generates value within its context.

A company that works towards a sustainable livelihood generates value to its social and environmental surroundings, hand in hand with overall economic growth. But what are the implications of these 3 fundamental pillars in creating corporate sustainability? Let's take a look:

  • The social value responds to the attention to human capital, both of the organization itself and its environment, seeking to mitigate the negative impacts generated by the operation of the company and creating mechanisms and strategies that seek better living conditions for all. Of special importance in this pillar is respect for human rights, equity and inclusion, as well as the search for development and human and social growth.
  • Provide environmental value involves identifying, mitigating and offsetting the company's impacts on the environment, which translates into designing and implementing actions aimed, among others, at reducing polluting emissions, promoting the use of renewable energies, the responsible consumption of raw materials and other resources, and the preservation of natural resources.
  • Of course, the purpose of every company is to generate wealth and profits, but this economic growth must be compatible with the social and environmental aspects, i.e., responsible resource management, respecting the rights of employees, which goes hand in hand with the economic growth of suppliers and contractors, y that generates development and wellbeing for the communities, while also making efficient use of the planet's resources.

The three pillars that together make a company respond to itself and its environment in a concrete way to the issues that afflict it. Three pillars that are the beginning of sustainability and that lay the foundations for it. Pillars that are the basis of the company's actions, whether they have failed or not, and that show the importance of the company in the territory - by knowing, respecting and promoting - the communities to which it is a neighbor and the communities that help to build it from within.

A voluntary commitment

Sustainability implies going beyond the regulatory and mandatory aspects to assume with will and conviction long-term commitments that have an impact on the three pillars mentioned above. The challenge is to make these commitments real and, as such, they must be achievable, verifiable and measurable, becoming a code of conduct for all members of the organization, becoming part of the corporate values and business strategy, and responding to international indicators and standards.

On its path to sustainability, an organization must also be willing to engage in open and honest dialogues with communities and other relevant stakeholders, to listen, observe and understand the environment, to understand their realities and expectations, and to look at itself to reflect on its performance and its role in the context to which it belongs.

At InSight we have the tools, resources and experience to help your company address these aspects in a holistic and practical way; if we continue to talk about Ubuntu, the drive for sustainability is not in individualism, it is in learning to look at ourselves and do what allows society to improve, a society of which - as companies - we are a part. This does not mean that people (companies) should not look at themselves, the question is that what they do allows society to improve.


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