How To Make Sustainability An Everyday Part Of Your Business

The number of companies and organisations signing up in support of environmental sustainability and climate actionis on the rise. Sustainable development has largely moved from a political rhetoric to a practical, indeed necessary structure that has permeated industries in both the public and private sectors. This could largely be attributed to how much clearer the picture is getting– the era for running away is over and it’s time for corporates to step up in favour of global goals for sustainable development or get called out for it.

How, then, can businesses employ environmentally sustainable business practices on an everyday basis? Before we get to that answer (and there is an answer), it’s helpful to look at why making sustainability a part of your business is essential.

Meeting The Demands Of Stakeholders

Society, media, governments and shareholders among other stakeholders have increasingly held businesses to higher ideals in terms of responsible management practices. A lot of it boils down to being environmentally sustainable in process, product and functioning. Economic performances are now tied in part and parcel to these practices, so it only makes sense that businesses endeavour to incorporate sustainable measures to maintain their value and brand image. 

Deriving Value From Sustainable Activity

Managing long-term social and environmental risks has crossed the threshold of being morally driven to becoming value deriving. There is concrete data to evidence the harmony with which ecological and economic successes appear – the focus is now on evaluating how successful a company is deemed if they meet at least one of six business case drivers through voluntary sustainable activity. Note that the use of the word ‘voluntary’ indicates that businesses have already gained a sense of understanding on the Business Case of Sustainability and aren’t just going through the motions under pressure or force. 

Garners Compliance-Related And Competitive Advantages

Compliance refers to being in accordance with strict regulations in industry-specific fields as well as in terms of general pollution, energy and waste management norms. To start off with, businesses that tick all the right boxes on regulatory checklists are considered compliant, and this is half the battle won.

Needless to say, this also keeps interested investors in the picture as there’s a lower likelihood of risks and defaulting that could have been controlled. In fact, 44% of investors, according to BCG/ MIT data1,claimed that they stay well away from companies with poor performance in sustainability as it invariably comes with high compliance risks. 

So, getting back to the question that was posed earlier– how can businesses make sustainability a part of their business model? Naturally, the answers to this depend on the budget, resources and time available to the business in question. That said, there are a few strategies to adopt par industry and budget:

  • Engage In Green Procurement

Procurement refers to the process of sourcing goods (or services) from an external source to use to further business needs. There are some steady supplies that office needs, regardless of what industry or set up it falls under– paper, food, coffee, energy, and lighting. Procurement policies can be made sustainable to the extent possible, by dealing only with fair trade suppliers or switching out unsustainable orders for zero-waste alternatives. Even minimising the use or abuse of goods within the office space due to mere convenience is a positive step toward cleaning up these channels. For large events, consider eco-friendly corporate gifts like trees through EcoMatcher in place of branded, single-use ones. 

  • Establish A Sustainable Culture

As the saying goes, small drops make an ocean. To see immediate changes as well as take sustainability from organisational rhetoric to a personal one, businesses can establish (and encourage) a culture of sustainability within teams. An excellent way to do this is to introduce successful employee engagement strategies that involve smaller sustainable goals such as recycling, energy-saving and corporatetree planting. Plenty of organisations today have exciting rewards schemes based on fitness or miles walked in a month; similar structures can be put in place for team-based sustainability competitions. On the social front, encourage employees to donate and contribute to charities, either by spreading awareness, tying up with NGOs or partner organisations like EcoMatcher, even making donations in employees’ names.  

  • Consider It As An Important Parameter To Every Organisational Strategy

The fight for sustainability wasn’t as strong yesterday as it was today, and will be even fiercer tomorrow. To account for this, it’s crucial that businesses immediately add sustainability as an important deciding factor while making changes, restructuring or signing off on important strategies. Engage all players in the grand scheme of things. As time goes by, the system will steadily begin taking sustainability into account by default.

  • Undertake A UN Sustainable Development Goal Or Two

For those without much of inkling about sustainable processes, taking the first step can be confusing. The UN recognised this way back in January 2016, when it released a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goalsto act as guideposts in the fight against negative environmental change, poverty and unsatisfactory lives for all2. By picking goals that align with their industry and capabilities, businesses can progress with a more structured approach to sustainability, whether they want to make their alignment known to the world or keep it within the network. Common goals like climate change action, human rights and gender equality transcend the boundaries of industries and structures; forming organizational sustainable development goals and targets around these can also be fruitful.  

  • Move To The Cloud

Cloud computing is a solution to quite a few resource-draining setups in a typical workspace. Cloud-based apps enable employees and clients to share files and collaborate digitally. This reduces the paper waste that comes from taking printouts, sending snail mail or even faxes. Sharing files could be a way to reduce travel costs; especially intra-city commutes to visit clients or other important stakeholders over a few documents. It also reduces the need for server equipment, which cuts costs and will lead to a significant drop in levels of energy consumption. Cloud computing also takes things mobile, so that reduces the need for larger equipment while also making data accessible at all times to authorised parties.

  •  Acknowledge The Time It Will Take

Building a sustainable organisation, indeed even implementing sustainable practices into current frameworks, isn’t an overnight process. It’s hard work to implement strategies at every stage and then look towards suppliers and sources to ensure standards are adhered to. However, perfection is not possible anyway. Small yet significant changes add miles to your strategy– a massive overhaul isn’t the only way out. While implementing strategies half-heartedly or out of compulsion is definitely a cop-out, having the entire organisation back one small change or policy is the way to go. 

As a business, one of the most interesting and collaborative ways towards climate change action and general sustainability is to partner with firms that make these processes more manageable. On the environmental front, EcoMatcher can help businesses engage in tree planting and reforestation to add to CSR initiatives and sustainability strategies.