Why Is Sustainability So Important To A Corporation
Sustainability in business is the impact a business may have on the environment or society as a whole. Implementing sustainable business strategies as a business means aiming to positively impact the world and hopefully work towards solving some of the world’s most prominent challenges.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about why sustainability is so important to a corporation, who should work to embrace sustainability within their organization, dive into some of the benefits of corporate sustainability, discuss challenges and outline a plan for making your business more sustainable.
Why Is Sustainability So Important To A Corporation?
Sustainability within a corporation is important for a number of reasons. From an altruistic perspective, strategies organizations implement to promote sustainability may help solve problems like pollution, income inequality, racial injustice, and more.
From an operational perspective, being a sustainable business is often synonymous with being an efficient business; after all, if your business is sustainable, it’s adaptive to changes in the economy, environment, or other external factors and therefore requires less restructuring as time goes on. Taking the time to evaluate your sustainability efforts can reap dividends.
Efficiency eliminates duplicative costs and helps drive profitability, which is why sustainability initiatives are so beneficial.
It’s also important from a brand strategy perspective to be able to demonstrate your sustainable practices. This is because it matters to your consumers, investors, employees, future generations, and the community that you’re doing what you can to promote good in the world. This can significantly increase your business valuation.
Bonus Material: Free ESG Checklist Download
Who Can Improve Business Sustainability Within An Organization?
As organizations become more aware of global standards for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, more are setting corporate performance goals to align with these best practices. However, to achieve these goals there must be action taken by all employees.
This means that sustainability should be an ongoing initiative woven into every department and tier of an organization. Additionally, it is something that more and more new companies are adopting as part of their business practices (GreenBiz).
Let’s explore what types of employees can improve business sustainability and what that might look like based on their role at the company:
Executive leadership: When it comes to supplier sustainability, executive leaders hold the responsibility of allocating funds to support sustainable vendors. It’s also their job to invest in research on long-term sustainable solutions, project financial outcomes, and forecast risk associated with various options. This funding and research can then power the policies and infrastructure to achieve sustainability goals.
Department heads: It’s the job of department heads to advocate for the policies established by executive leaders. This means leading by example in following those policies and ensuring that frontline employees are following suit through feedback and disciplinary action where appropriate. If responsibilities include risk management, are employees using supplies in a way that’s creating undue risk (i.e. inefficiently or incorrectly?) If they include vendor management, is due diligence being completed consistently and on time? Is the whole team fostering positive relationships with your vendors?
Individual contributors: Frontline employees should respect the policies regarding supplier sustainability goals by actively reading, attesting to, and following the guidelines they set forth. It’s also important that the employees witnessing day-to-day operations communicate gaps or challenges to managers so that improvements can be made. An easy way for employees to access all relevant policies at once is through a centralized sustainability policy portal.
It’s clear that the responsibility of upholding sustainable practices does not fall solely on the shoulders of the executive leadership team, management, or individual contributors. To truly infuse sustainable business practices into your organization, it’s critical that your efforts permeate all levels of the corporation’s hierarchy.
What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Sustainable Business Practices?
Prioritizing environmental sustainability yields a myriad of types of benefits to any corporation. Let’s dive into two these business benefits of them:
Scandals have been proven to take a direct toll on an organization’s finances, both in the short and long term. Reputational risk is also amplified dramatically by the See-Through Economy. If you fail to implement proper sustainable business practices, you can upset customers or investors and damage your reputation.
Instead of needing to divert valuable resources away from the core business to deal with public backlash, institute a sustainable business strategy that adequately protects the environment, your consumers, and your employees. This will serve as a competitive advantage; purpose-driven organizations not only attract and retain more employees, but there is a rapidly growing market for sustainable goods and services.
Too often, sustainability is viewed as an initiative that will sacrifice profits. In fact, tapping into that growing demand for sustainable products and services is a significant opportunity to increase profits.
In the past couple of years, the majority of consumers worldwide have expressed that they are willing to change their consumption habits if it could lessen their negative environmental impact. The bottom line is: people are willing to pay more for products that contain sustainable ingredients and support businesses that are committed to this business model.
What Are Some Challenges to Improving Sustainability?
With so much else going on that requires immediate attention, it can be a challenge to dedicate the necessary time and resources to improving sustainability at your business. Challenges that commonly get in the way include:
If your business struggles to design proactive, long-term plans around your business processes, it will naturally be more difficult to get a long-term sustainability program in place. Consider taking a risk-based approach to building your programs to ensure that you’ve assessed and prioritized your resources before implementing action.
If you have limited resources when it comes to what’s needed to build a sustainability program, you may feel that your hands are tied. This is another challenge that taking a risk-based approach can solve; if you want to prioritize sustainable practices but aren’t sure how to do it, taking an ESG risk assessment can help you identify the most important areas to focus on, where you can afford to take on more risk and establish a long-term plan to stay sustainable over time.
How Can You Make Your Business Strategy More Sustainable?
Instead of expecting to make your business “sustainable” overnight, work towards making it more and more sustainable each day. Intend on taking things step by step with a long-term goal in mind. Gradually, you’ll expand the impact of your actions over time. The beginning of this process should involve looking at your decision-making processes, operational strategies, and overall culture. From there, consider moving on to evaluating sustainable suppliers and other third parties to empower your own business to learn and live best practices.
The ultimate goal is to communicate your program with stakeholders and your community at large; after all, your sustainability program is only as good as you can prove it is. We recommend starting with building the foundation for what’s called an “ESG Bow Tie.” This involves:
- Gathering data on the sustainable practices you put into place (left side of the bow). What data can your team that tracks carbon emissions provide you with? What can your HR department tell you about recent turnover rates? With ERM software like LogicManager, you can collect this sustainability data from disparate sources through automatic information requests that gather into one centralized view.
- Centralizing that information into an information repository (middle of the bow). This centralization of your various data inputs provides you with a single source of truth. This also provides you with a full audit trail so you’ll always know exactly when information was updated and by whom. Additionally, this audit trail lets you compare year over year, so you can see if, for example, your renewable energy usage and energy efficiency are trending up or down.
- Distributing that information (right side of the bow). This serves as proof that your sustainability program is up and running. ESG reporting requests may be driven by numerous frameworks (such as CDP, GRI, or others) that guide what type of information you should be reporting on. While there is plenty of overlap in the information different parties require, they will typically ask for it in slightly different ways. LogicManager’s reporting engine can generate reports and dashboards that display the information in any necessary manner.
Don’t reinvent the wheel; before developing your sustainability program, see how your organization stacks up against predetermined best practices. We’ve compiled a list of due diligence activities and traits that any organization with a strong sustainability program should have. You can download your free copy here.
Conclusion: Why Should A Business Be Sustainable
Now that you know why sustainability is good for business, you can utilize LogicManager’s sustainability software which helps you centralize your corporate sustainability strategy, streamline and automate your activities and eliminate duplicative work and wasted resources while building a sustainable workplace.
This, in turn, helps you increase efficiencies and profitability and empower your sustainability program to help combat key threats such as climate change, carbon footprint, and risks facing natural resources.
To see how to build your corporate sustainability practices on a foundation of risk-based best practices today, see a demo of our integrated platform. Schedule a 30-minute window that works best for you at the link below.