What does Sustainability actually mean?

What does Sustainability actually mean?

It seems that I’m all about the buzzwords, and so today I’m going to attempt to tackle one of the biggest and buzziest of the lot.


We’re going to look at what the word itself means, and how we at Client Magnet apply that to our day to day work.

Sustainability can be defined as “meeting the needs of the present, without making it more difficult to meet the needs of the future”. It can be split into three different categories, often referred to as Planet, People, and Profits.  We’ll take each on of these in turn.

Sustainability - the only planet we have

Environmental Sustainability – Planet

This is definitely the area of sustainability that first springs to mind for most people. It gets the most attention from the media, and can be argued is the most important.  After all, without a planet to stand on the rest is pretty academic.

Lots of businesses have adopted environmental sustainability as a part of who they are. Microsoft’s global operations are carbon negative for example. Which when you think about it is quite an achievement. They run thousands of acres of data centers and offices, they take hundreds of flights every day, and they provide some of the widest adopted cloud services in the world. Yet they still manage to actively reduce carbon from the atmosphere.

It’s not just about the big headlines like Carbon Neutrality though, there are lots of other things.

The small things add up to big results

Recycling is great, but re-using is even better. Buying local products not only supports the people around you (more on that later) but also reduces the carbon footprint of everything you purchase. Why buy bottled water when the tap water in this country is so clean and safe?

There has been a lot of talk about single use plastics in the media recently so I won’t bore you with more, but suffice it to say they should be avoided whenever possible. You certainly won’t find plastic straws in our office.

Reducing packaging has a massive impact on the world.  Supermarkets selling un-packaged vegetables has a measurable effect on the world. So we’ll always choose food with the least packaging we can.

Using renewable energy is another fantastic way to reduce your impact on the world, the government has its own targets for the use of renewables, but why not charge your phone from solar panels instead of just plugging it into the wall?

At Client Magnet it is one of our most important corporate objectives to maintain carbon neutrality at the very least. If we can be carbon negative then we will.

Social Sustainability - We love making people happy!

Social Sustainability – People

As the name suggests this aspect of sustainability is nothing to do with the impact you have on the environment, but the impact you have on the society you exist in.  None of us exist in isolation, and so we should always endeavor to have a positive impact on the people around us.

For us this starts with our staff.  We always pay a fair wage for work done. If you work for us you can rest assured we will pay you well. But it’s more than money.  It’s about making Client Magnet a nice place to be without compromising our ethics. Free drinks and snacks, that’s a given. Time off to work on personal projects that make the world a better place (paid of course) is something we feel is really important.

More paid holiday than the minimum?  Sure thing, why not? 

But let’s look beyond our own people.  We aren’t an isolated community, we are part of the wider community around us.  We will always use a local supplier if there is one available.  We want to work with local businesses to help them succeed.  If we only have the capacity to work for a limited number of people (and of course that will always be true) then we will always pick a local business over a remote one. Though don’t let that stop you talking to us if you aren’t local. If you are doing something that makes a real difference then we would love to find out more.

Economic Sustainability – Profit

This is where the very basis of what we do comes to the fore.

One of the founding principles of our agency is that the best way to have a significant and measurable impact on the world around us is to take good people and make them rich. It is a sad fact of life that having money equals having influence. So our job is to make sure the right people are making money.

We also consider ourselves to be good people, at least we try to be. And so we will always look to make a reasonable profit. Not at the expense of the other pillars of sustainability, but we cannot help if we no longer exist.

We will never bump up our fees just because we can, we will always charge what we believe is fair. And if should go without saying, but sadly it doesn’t. We will always do everything in our power to make sure the work we do is as successful as it can be.  If that means working a few more hours than we billed you for then that’s ok.

We will reinvest some of our profits in our local area, we will support global campaigns to improve the planet we live on, and we will support chosen charities both directly with money, and indirectly with our services.

If in doing that we get rich too, well that only allows us to have even more of an impact. If we don’t get rich but we have a positive impact on the world around us, then we’re all good with that too.

Sustainability - Small things have a big impact

The Impact of Sustainability

The most important thing we can possibly say about this is that we do not consider sustainability to be something we can ever fully achieve.  We understand that it is a journey we are undertaking, and that we can always do better.

We try very hard not to beat ourselves up about the fact that sometimes we don’t do as well as we want, or even that we fail completely from time to time.

We also extend this to the wonderful people we work with. Whether partners, clients, or suppliers. We won’t judge them for not being perfect, none of us are. If they are trying too then we’ll do everything in our power to help them.

The Effects of Sustainability

What we really hope is that the impact of our efforts at sustainability make the world a better place in one way or another.  It doesn’t have to be big, but if one child doesn’t go hungry, or one tree doesn’t get chopped down unnecessarily, or a lifeboat gets a new radio then we will sleep well at night knowing we helped.

Maybe one day we’ll be a position to run a foundation like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, but until then, we’ll carry on doing what we can, and taking inspiration from those who do it better than us.

Next we’re going to talk about what Growth Marketing is, but if in the mean time you’d like to meet up and chat about how we might be able to help you make more money please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.