The world is waking up to the climate crisis, social inequity, and other challenges, and corporations know they must respond. Corporate Sustainability is an important part that can be taken care of. Unfortunately, some businesses have been slower than others in adapting their practices. Still, many take sustainability seriously for themselves and society by taking steps to reduce their harmful effects on both the planet and people.
The climate emergency is front-of-mind for most people, and companies have begun their sustainability journey with a commitment to the environment. Many are reducing waste by recycling or using 100% renewable energy sources for the electricity required to run office equipment and power new electric vehicle fleets. Powering the electric grid with solar and wind power – which does not contribute any CO2e into our atmosphere – over the next several decades will provide the renewable energy needed to power our everyday needs.
The environment should be a priority for any company that wants to succeed in today’s marketplace. Sustainability efforts provide financial benefits and improve reputation and public image, among other things – all of which can help set your business apart from competitors who may not share these values with you!
Why should we prioritize corporate sustainability?
Generations of neglect have put the environment in a precarious position. However, we are now beginning to see many steps being taken to stop the damage and save the world as we know it.
Curbing waste and improving sustainability in your business or organization’s practices will benefit society and the company’s growth.
The benefits of innovation and change include the following:
Achieving cost savings:
By reducing resource consumption and the pollution it creates, an organization can expand its positive impact across people, profit, and the planet. This is because cost savings lead to economic efficiency, which provides funding for additional sustainability efforts and an increased positive contribution toward commitments to change.
Increased trust, credibility, and brand reputation:
Pew Research shows that climate change affects communities worldwide.
Six in ten Americans say it’s happening locally, and 62% trust companies that commit to reducing waste and being transparent about progress towards a variety of sustainability.
These commitments to the environment and social equity, and how these companies now manage their operations, show that they care more than other alternatives (often competitors) and embrace transparency when reporting good and bad results to customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
Conscientious buyers vote with their wallets, meaning businesses have an opportunity for increased conversions by aligning themselves publicly (and privately) against dangerous environmental and social practices, including everything from mining coal to conflict diamonds. People, Planet, and Profit are all equally important to today’s conscientious companies.
Keep up with customers’ needs:
Once you commit to sustainability, you will be able to respond more efficiently when your customers build sustainability, especially environmental qualification criteria, into their purchasing procedures.
A majority (77%) of Americans prefer brands that prioritize fighting global warming, according to Harris Poll; this further strengthens the business case for ensuring operations are environmentally sensitive as it drives customer satisfaction.
A sustainable company has longevity and can continue providing services or products because the triple bottom line does not just happen overnight. It takes the establishment of company-wide policies and goals, strategic plans to achieve these goals, and the tactical commitment and top-down management to execute the changes and innovations that will result in significant progress and more positive impacts.
Increasing the overall market standards:
Investing in sustainable strategies is an excellent way to set higher market standards and make it more difficult for market competitors. For instance, if paper manufacturers sold products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), this might spur other competitors to seek out responsibly sourced materials that meet these and other natural resource criteria— Thus raising our global investment level!
Being prepared for stricter regulations:
Environmentally responsible businesses have a competitive advantage because they’re ready to work with local and regional lawmakers and help “raise the bar” for everyone. In addition, they are supporting and adopting new rules and regulations to minimize risks and improve communication with public decision-makers, resulting in recognition of leadership.
Increased workplace morale and talent acquisition:
Sustainability efforts can and should engage employees and build a sense of community. They also support talent acquisition strategies by providing job opportunities overlapping benefits to those already employed and attracting the elusive “Generation Z” staff that are keenly interested in sustainability often above all else.
Make your consciousness and commitment public.
The struggle for sustainability is an age-old one. Still, now more than ever, it’s becoming vital to the success of virtually every business, regardless of how big or small an enterprise is. The environmental effects on our planet and social inequalities are too immense and immediate not to take action–and organizations that promote transparency around these issues will be rewarded with high marks in every marketplace they choose to compete in.
Here are three essential tactics to consider:
First, take advantage of your existing website:
Create a sustainability section with downloadable reports or white papers containing detailed statistics about corporate ESG data so those visiting are informed enough to take action.
Set specific targets:
Having reasonable science-based targets as the foundation of a company’s ESG efforts helps quantify the seriousness of the commitments. This also increases accountability and adds transparency – either you will meet your established goals or won’t. Either is okay if your stakeholders see a deliberate and practical path toward sustainability.
“Good businesses” are booming, and companies take sustainable practices seriously. Businesses can increase their brand recognition by displaying certifications they obtain to meet sustainability targets, such as those from STTN.
Let’s not waste any time (and resources)!
Meeting challenging but doable sustainability criteria, such as those established by the GRI, CDP, and many United Nations efforts, including the Science Based Targets program, can demonstrate a brand’s dedication to preserving the planet’s health, the dignity of people, and ethical business practices. However, the rationale for sustainability in business goes far beyond a brand’s reputation.
The evidence is clear that companies focusing on environmental and social goals will earn better returns. Morgan Stanley’s recent survey of individual investors revealed 71% believe this, while an MIT study compared “embracers” – employees at businesses embracing sustainable action – to others deemed more cautious adopters. Moreover, 71% of these conscious decisions led to higher profits for their employers!
To ensure the financial future of any organization in a rapidly warming and socially challenged planet, a commitment to sustainability must be considered appropriate, wise, and necessary to our very survival – both economically and socially.
A carefully planned, well-rounded strategy will inevitably provide many benefits, including increased profitability and preserving wealth through decreased operating costs. These two points make it clear why companies worldwide start daily with sustainability as a core business value.