Sustainable Business Practices make good business sense

William Hughes, ex Zimbabwean farmer and now MD of Impahla Clothing is passionate about sustainable business practices.

We hear the word sustainability being used a great deal today. From Board Rooms to Annual Reports to Advertising campaigns. It is a buzzword that is used all the time, but what does it actually mean?

Many when asked refer to environmental issues and I often get the sense that there is not a full understanding of what it actually means. What it means for Impahla Clothing is that for us to be a sustainable business we must be able to understand what is material to us as a company and we must be able to focus on these material issues to ensure the longevity and success of our business. Impahla works in a difficult industry, one where many jobs have been lost and companies closed, so in order to survive we need to be very clear what matters to us and we need to put policies in place to ensure that these material issues are not neglected or overlooked.

We work in an industry where many buyers are not interested in building up long term supply relationships, but are driven by price and margin and of course short-term gains. We needed to find a customer who we could build a proper relationship with, a customer who sourced ethically and who we could trust. We found this customer in PUMA, who we have indeed built up a relationship that has stood the test the time, a relationship that ensures a steady stream of orders onto our lines.

This is a crucial material issue for Impahla, because without orders we would not have a business, so we have worked hard at cementing the relationship with PUMA and at the same time aspiring to World Class Manufacturing Standards, on a path to continuous improvement. We also work in an industry, which is very labor intensive and where absenteeism and late coming is rife. In order to survive, we needed to buck this trend and we did this by placing a massive emphasis on our most important asset, which is our staff. The importance of people in your business cannot be over emphasized because if your staff are not in the same team as you, you have no chance of success. Building of trust, promotion from within, respect and providing opportunity are some of the key areas that are focused on. This is another crucial material issue for Impahla and the results speak for themselves. Our absenteeism rate runs at around 1.5%, which against an Industry average of around 6% shows what can be achieved. We have of course many other material issues that influence decision making and policies at Impahla, all of which can be found on our website http://www.impahla.co.za, under the Sustainability Reports section.

To conclude, it is very clear to Impahla that Sustainable Business Practices make good business sense and it has been my mission in this blog to illustrate why.

William Hughes

Managing Director Impahla Clothing

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