Sustainability in business has often been associated as a buzz-word with high costs. It’s this dismissal that causes companies a huge loss, as many can benefit from the work behind this word. In its most basic sense, sustainability involves making a positive impact on our environment — and it doesn’t require huge investments.
Indeed, contrary to popular belief, WeForum explains how sustainability and profitability can coexist. By focusing on ESG, or environmental, social, and governance criteria, companies have been shown to produce higher three-year returns, were more likely to become high-quality stocks, were less likely to have large price declines, and were less likely to go bankrupt.
This may be because more and more consumers prefer companies who value sustainability. A study by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) found that 83% of respondents consider the recyclability of a product along with its quality and price as “important” or “extremely im
portant”. To that end, it’s reasonable to say that companies who practice sustainability are more valued in the market as compared to those that don’t.
More than being profitable, however, being sustainable means supporting the community and economy that’s dependent on a healthy planet. By contributing to the health of the structure where a business operates, they’ll be able to help build an environment where businesses and their communities can thrive.
But how can businesses start being sustainable? And how do these practices bridge sustainability with profitability?
How to Start Being Sustainable
Make it a part of your core business
Sustainability should be a core part of your business — not just an add-on to save money, but an integral feature in your business model and daily operations. The first step is to put the right people in place, starting with a sustainability officer or analyst. After all, businesses with ESG principles built into their long-term growth strategy can mitigate risk and drive profitability growth by investing in sustainable innovations that positively impact the world. Not to mention, having sustainability as a core part of your business will help attract the best talent, and make for relatable and effective marketing campaigns.
Educate and engage the workforce
A sustainability plan won’t work without a workforce that drives it. It’s critical to convey just how sustainability can and should be a part of the organization’s core mission — which is why educating your workforce is very important. Fortunately, learning has been made easier as more and more professionals are holding events and seminars online.
Teaching your workforce online is a very convenient way for your employees to learn from the professionals. Ironically, even sustainability professionals are starting to shift to this model with a lot of further education shifting online due to the current climate. Future sustainability professionals are now pursuing online sustainability degrees at home, a trend that’s bound to increase moving forward. If students are able to grasp sustainability concepts online, then your workforce will be able to as well. At the end of the day, sustainability is something that everyone is already interested in — you just need engaging online classes or seminars to help get your workforce on the same page.
Pump up the creativity
There are many ways to start being sustainable — starting from your operations to your supply chain. Try to aim for a circular economy in your product’s or service’s life cycle, and repurposing or repairing older models of your product can help extend the lifespan and reduce resources and waste. Going for greener packaging by leveraging technology and reducing your reliance on any one-off shore country is also a good idea. However, simple acts such as going paperless are a good place to start.
Indeed, sustainability can take many forms, and the concept is a little challenging to truly define. As long as you work creatively towards an end goal to effectively and responsibly balance environmental protection with economic and social development, you’re bound to meet profitability.