The meaning of sustainability for businesses owners and staff in Perth, Western Australia
The International Journal of Sustainability Education
Common Ground Publishing
School of Business and Law
Because the term “sustainability” has so many meanings, I believe it is important for those involved with integration of sustainability in businesses to understand what the term means to those who work in these businesses. In this article I explore this idea and describe the results obtained from focus groups and interviews with employers and employees in small- to medium-sized businesses in Perth, Western Australia. I found that everyone who participated had an understanding of sustainability, which related to themes such as things lasting a long time, resource use, recycling and waste, as well as society and the need for business practices to change. Most participants had also attempted to integrate aspects of sustainability into their working lives. Since the participants were keen to discuss these topics, I also asked them what they identified as barriers that may hinder the integration of sustainability in businesses, and they listed lack of leadership, governance, time, and financial factors as the main barriers. The results, therefore, revealed that participants did indeed understand what sustainability means, and they were aware of actions that could be done to achieve it. These results are valuable because they indicate that in Perth, Western Australia, mutual understanding about sustainability exists between employers, employees, and providers of sustainability. I conclude that such background surveys are essential to building collaboration and guiding the selection of tools and processes to enhance sustainability outcomes.