Driving sustainability in business is no longer just a far-reaching trend, but a reality that most have come to accept. While the strategy was initially considered a curiosity for large corporations, now even small companies are recognizing the need to implement it. This is partly due to stricter regulations on environmental requirements but also because companies have begun to see the benefits of such a solution. While the main benefit, environmental protection, is at the top of the list, it is possible to get some more out of going pro-environment. What benefits for a company can come from pursuing a sustainable business strategy?
Sustainability in business – table of contents:
What is sustainability in business?
Sustainability is a strategy in which companies are not only driven by their own needs but also consider today’s needs of the environment and the planet as a whole when doing business. They also act by thinking about the future and what state they will leave the planet in and are therefore guided by higher values. Of course, in all of this, there is also room for development and financial gain. Obviously, without it, there would be no business.
Companies are altering their processes and operations where they can improve something, and are opting for all possible tools to ensure that their operations have the least negative impact on the environment. For some companies, it will involve changing the supply chain, and for others, it will be simply replacing the company’s lighting – regardless of the scale of the operation, what matters is that they made an effort in the right direction.
Why is it important to implement sustainability in business?
The desire to make changes when it comes to conducting business following higher values than profit alone has become a reality, and more and more companies are recognizing the need (and even the necessity) to follow this path. Sustainability is not just a passing trend, but a revolution that has become a reality. The main factor that prevails in favor of making the transition is pressure from investors and customers.
Competition in the market is fierce, so both consumers and colleagues or suppliers can choose the entities they want to interact with. There is no denying that nowadays many of them point to the fact that a particular company has a sustainability strategy as one of their main selection factors. Consumers can spend more for a product from a company that fits into their worldview, and investors may even move on to competitors if their sustainability needs are not met. Change is not just an image ploy, it is a need of the times and the only way to stay relevant in a competitive market.
Making changes is also substantial because of the ever-increasing requirements described in regulations. The direction that global governments are taking is clear, so companies should take this into account in their long-term strategies. Transforming operations will allow them to prepare for future regulations and save a lot of resources and stress. What’s more, companies that cooperate with regulators on this issue and meet high environmental requirements can often also count on additional benefits in the form of lower fees, such as taxes, or various types of discounts.
What benefits can the application of sustainability in business bring to a company?
Many managers have recognized the urgency to adopt sustainability in business. Despite this obvious situation, there are still many companies standing on the threshold of evolution, but they cannot take the decisive step and proceed. Perhaps the spark for it will come from seeing the benefits
- Improving the company’s image
- Reducing costs
- A way to stand out from the crowd and make a name for yourself against the competition
- A way to attract and retain talent
- A chance to take advantage of new development opportunities
As we mentioned above, the introduction of sustainability is vital, because of the company’s image issues and maintaining good relations with existing customers or investors. The benefit of undergoing this transformation also involves the opportunity to reach a new range of customers who are interested in this type of service or product.
While almost any change involves an investment, and this is no different, it is worth considering the long-term benefits of implementation here as well. In the case of sustainability, a properly implemented strategy can bring real financial returns to a company. A simple example is the replacement of lighting with energy-efficient lighting. Initially, this will involve an investment in new light bulbs and the need to upgrade equipment, but ultimately the company can expect lower electricity bills.
Lower costs also mean higher profits – that much is obvious. Introducing sustainability makes a company work more efficiently and productively. We can also find in some studies that sustainability motivates employees to work more efficiently and achieve better results.
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At a time when the market is overflowing with many competing products and services, standing out from the competition can be a difficult task. Especially when it is a new product or service that is just entering the market. Reaching your audience may involve some difficulty, so you need to make sure you have an element that will stand out and convince prospective consumers. One such strategy may be to communicate loudly about running a sustainable business. Keep in mind, however, that your marketing efforts need to be covered in reality. Otherwise, consumers will quickly discover such ploys.
The threat to businesses today is not just competition in terms of multiple companies in the market or similar products and services. Many employers also see the tremendous competitiveness in the labor market and are concerned about losing strategic employees. After all, human resources in companies are a valuable resource. A salary increase or additional benefits are not always enough incentive to keep an employee from moving to a competitor.
Today’s employees don’t just look at salary and are willing to reduce their income a bit and work for a company that cares about the environment. Developing and following a sustainable business strategy also gives employees an incentive to grow and increases their productivity, which in turn translates into company profit.
Companies that are innovators in the market have a chance to expand and take advantage of additional opportunities, such as European funds that allow further investment in modern technologies or other tools that lead to optimized operations. While it is easier to follow others and keep to the well-established standards of conduct, it is also worth creating your initiatives over time.
How do you incorporate a sustainability strategy into your company?
Firstly, change your thinking. Approach this transition as an opportunity and don’t treat it as an unpleasant obligation. Look at the opportunities that the implementation of innovative strategies will open up for you, and notice where your company will be once you make it happen. Try to see the long-term benefits that will come from this change.
Keep in mind that these don’t have to be big steps right away – small alterations, introduced gradually and regularly, that are tailored to the needs and capabilities of your business, will suffice. A small, local company should adopt a completely different strategy than a large chain of stores with its own logistics center. In any case, all transformations make a difference and have an impact.
Small changes make a big difference
Do you think introducing recycling in the workplace or encouraging employees to green commute is a drop in the bucket and doesn’t matter at all? It does, and it’s huge. What matters is your attitude, because it determines how employees will perceive the change and whether they want to follow it. Also, provide them with the opportunity to adjust to the new reality.
In the case of recycling, make sure that you thoroughly inform them about how to segregate, so that you can dispel any doubts they may have. Also, ensure that segregation is not too cumbersome. Garbage cans should be located in such places that employees are willing to use them and don’t have to change their habits too much.
How to encourage employees to commute green? Do it in the form of a game – organize a bike week or introduce a fun ranking in which a specific prize can be won. Perhaps after such an action, some will see the benefits of cycling and incorporate the habit permanently into their lives.
Larger corporations can provide mass transportation for employees and substitute buses at strategic points in the city. In this way, the company will reduce emissions and employees will save on commuting costs.
As you can see, whatever change you make, will ultimately result in a gain not only for the environment but also for the company itself and often for its employees. However, it is important to have a positive approach to change and skillfully present the benefits.