Sustainability: Practical Growth Opportunities for Business

November 2, 2022 - 7 minutes read

Surely we have all heard about the global climate crisis and efforts being made to reduce our carbon footprint. It can feel like such a colossal challenge that we as business owners and leaders can do little to mitigate the avalanche. However, if we all choose to contribute, together we can provide an impactful and even vital boost and maybe even grow our businesses at the same time.

Recently, I attended a webinar that delved into this exact scenario. Presented by Professors Kerstin Fehre and Xavier Baeten of Vlerick Business School in Brussels, it broke down the 4 paths organizations can take to help move the needle.

Philanthropy entails giving to worthy causes and having an altruistic desire to improve human welfare.

Sustainability Management is about integrating social, environmental, ethical, consumer, and human rights concerns directly into the business strategy and operations.

Sustainable Value Creation combines the collective interests of a broad set of stakeholders while also addressing shareholders’ needs. The focus is on optimizing the value over the long term. Sustainability is central to all that the firm does.

Circularity is the highest level, the bullseye. These organizations seek to maintain the value of products, materials, and resources as long as possible. Products are intentionally designed to be reusable and refurbished. All phases of the company/organization are driven to reduce, reuse, refurbish, repair, and recycle.

“CEOs work to generate profits…but the best-run companies do more. They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value.”
– Tricia Griffith, President and CEO of Progressive Corporation.

Throughout their presentation, the professors cited publication after publication including Business Roundtable, McKinsey, and Deloitte to name a few, all making the case about why sustainability matters in business. Everything from financial performance and investments to talent acquisition and the trend of consumer preferences makes it clear that sustainability can no longer be treated as an afterthought. Simply put, the future of your business depends on it.

As companies around the globe are facing the challenge of sufficient staffing, insights from Deloitte’s 2018 study offer some compelling insights. They found that “75% of millennials and Gen Z respondents indicated they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments in deciding where to work. Two-thirds even said they would not accept a job that didn’t have a strong sustainability program.” Therefore, as HR.com suggests, “to make your business more appealing to younger generations of workers, you’ll want to think about going green.”

“Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.”
– Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable

Professors Fehre and Baeten also profiled companies that are leading the way in this endeavor, including Unilever, Patagonia, Axa, and Neste. These companies are re-engineering the way they do business to strategically and deliberately focus on sustainability. They engage all of their stakeholders, examine their product lifecycles, scrutinize where and what raw materials they’re sourcing, and are seeking to align with global benchmarks to measure their effectiveness.

Take Action Today

  1. DISCUSS sustainability with your team and your customers. Consider using surveys and good old-fashioned conversations to find out how they feel about sustainability. Ask if they have ideas or suggestions, you might be pleasantly surprised by their input! Use their feedback to help create your sustainability goals.
  2. RECYCLE: Take an honest look at your company’s current recycling practice. Identify one new area that everyone can get behind and build unity and success starting there.
  3. REDUCE: Paper – how can you reduce the amount of paper you are using for your business? Look for alternatives, like reusable notebooks or Moyu.
  4. REUSE: Explore items created or purchased by your company to see how they or their components can be reused.
  5. REPAIR: Revisit your tools, appliances, and machines to make sure they’re being serviced properly and on time. By taking care of what you have, they will run more efficiently and you’ll need to purchase new less often.

Are you still not sure where to begin? Or would you like some help spearheading this initiative for your company? Let’s schedule a time to discuss your particular situation.

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