Do you want to be an organization that attracts talent? Would you like to align more with your customers’ and employees’ expectations? Is going green part of your corporate strategy? The importance of sustainability in business has quickly become a hot topic. But what are the benefits? How does taking more eco-friendly actions at work affect your company's bottom line?
Choosing a green strategy is vital not only for preserving the environment, but also for social and economic reasons. An acknowledgement alone will no longer suffice for a company's growth and longevity, as a company must now take climate change seriously. Taking action is what matters. As you will see in this article, some of the most significant worldwide corporations have already taken vital green initiatives regarding this issue. Shifting to a working model that reduces your impact on the planet represents one of the most valuable components of the future of work. Let’s learn more about this essential topic.
What does sustainability in business mean?
Sustainability in business consists of implementing a corporate model based on the three core pillars: economic, social, and environmental. It defines the impact of the company on the planet and on society. For example, companies with a sustainable strategy implement actions and promote values to:
fight against global warming;
protect wildlife and biodiversity;
improve air and water quality;
balance the income inequality gap;
promote gender equality;
avoid the depletion of natural resources;
advocate for racial justice;
stand up for human rights.
The ‘triple bottom line’ or the 3 P’s (Planet, People, Profit) strategy is the new key to success. Sustainable business practices usually require greater financial investments, but you need to be profitable to do so.
What makes a business thrive? To run a successful company, your employees are your greatest asset. Adopting an employee-centric helps you grow and succeed. Including more social and greener actions in your strategy is part of what makes workers more engaged in their job. These three topics are all interconnected. However, being aware and talking about sustainability is no longer enough. People want to fill the gap between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ by taking proper initiatives.
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Why is sustainability in business important?
It creates long-term value for your business
For companies, focusing on ethical and sustainable projects is a worthwhile long-term investment. According to a study from McKinsey called ‘Five ways that ESG creates value’, people are ready to pay 5% more for greener products. However, it is not all about what you offer to your customers. For Millennials and Gen. Z, being part of an organization with an ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) focus is critical. Taking sustainability for granted will negatively impact your business in the long run.
It matches your employees’ expectations
As we just mentioned, more people want to work for companies that address ESG issues. From social injustice to ecological impact, workers want their professional environment to align with their values. Maintaining your employees’ expectations in terms of sustainability prevents them from leaving for a more sustainable business and makes your company more attractive to new talent.
It answers your partners’ and customers’ request
According to research from Nielsen, 81% of global consumers think businesses should act for environmental changes. The population is calling on corporations to take action towards sustainability and is willing to pay more. So companies have no excuses to act in favor of a more sustainable society. Moreover, as the number of organizations (of any size) that go green increases, it is also a matter of aligning with your partners and potential future collaborators.
It allows for much bigger steps than individual actions
As a company, you can have a much bigger effect than individuals trying to include sustainable practices in their daily lives. The more the firm expands, the more its impact on the planet does too. However, you can turn this around by promoting the importance of sustainability in business with your workforce, your partners, and your consumers. Setting up a paperless office policy, for instance, can be an easy step to start. Acting as a community has a greater magnitude than if only a few of your employees reduce their paper waste.
Implementing green initiatives improves your brand image
Consumers are turning their backs on companies that don't change their way of working and act towards more ethical and greener practices. However, taking care of the planet and adopting positive, social initiatives also play a significant role in increasing a company's brand image. Organizations that focus their strategy on a more sustainable and practical approach have a real advantage in comparison to their peers.
Adopting a sustainable strategy attracts more talent and customers
Your corporate values and the ideas you promote determine who you are as a business. It’s a critical aspect for your clients and your collaborators. Does this organization cooperate with local communities? Does this brand match my ideals? What is their sustainable strategy? These are some questions consumers or workers may have. Again, this is your chance to attract talents and more customers.
Being an eco-friendly organization creates more business opportunities
With the overall population becoming increasingly more concerned about our impact on the future, building a strong working model based on ESG values is a significant t advantage in creating more business opportunities. Generally, companies look for partners that share the same values. When it comes to improving sustainability in the professional world, corporations are even more careful with whom they cooperate. Organizations that genuinely care for the future of the planet and its inhabitants have better chances to develop new markets and grow internationally.
Going green fosters workplace connection
Allowing your workforce to act for the planet throughout their career is a huge advantage. It brings a sense of connection to their work and makes them feel part of a community, with the same ideas and visions. Workplace connection enhances motivation, engagement, job satisfaction, employee happiness, and loyalty. According to an article published by Fast Company, 40% of Millennials choose a company because of its sustainable strategy. With all this information, it is clear that going green isn’t an option anymore.
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What are some examples of a sustainable organization?
One of the most effective initiatives from the tech giant is its recycling strategy. As part of its business model, Apple invited customers to participate by sending back their old devices and receiving some money back. Many other changes have been implemented over the last years including less packaging, different choices in terms of materials, zero-waste infrastructures, etc. This global company has been carbon-neutral since 2020 and aims to do the same with its products by 2030.
Patagonia is the perfect example demonstrating the importance of sustainability in business. From eco-friendly manufacturing to waste audits, Patagonia is committed to environmental responsibility. This outdoor clothing brand promotes a working model based on activism. Its slogan is ‘we’re in business to save our home planet’. With only 4% employee turnover and a company that keeps growing, this company is an excellent example to follow.
Intel aims at being a global leader in sustainability and implements many social and environmental initiatives to achieve this goal. Its strategy is based on four pillars: climate, water, energy, and waste. By 2030, the company aims to become net positive on water, use 100% renewable energy, and create a circular economy. In terms of climate, Intel aspires to reach net-zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions across their international operations by 2040.
The importance of sustainability in business stems from a global demand, where consumers and workers actively ask to preserve and protect the environment. Modern organizations no longer have a choice if they want to remain competitive and keep growing. As flexible work represents a real solution to reduce your corporate impact on the planet, we are happy to help you embrace it with our desk booking system.
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Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.