Organizations today recognize the importance of incorporating social, environmental and governance considerations into the planning and operation of their core businesses. With plenty of opportunities arising from trends in worldwide sustainability, many companies and their leaders are adopting sustainable development plans in response to social and environmental issues that affect their business operations. In fact, consumers worldwide have become more and more likely to associate and remain loyal to a company that incorporates sustainable practices into its business.
So, just how can you successfully integrate sustainability into your business?
1. Establish a clear sustainability objective
Corporate sustainability is an achievable goal, provided that organizations plan and include their sustainability strategies within their corporate agenda. As a business, you need to consider the four primary factors necessary for developing a sustainable plan. They include: eco-efficiency programs, management infrastructure, marketing programs and strategic initiatives. You should then appoint a sustainability leader who has the right credentials, abilities and experience to lead the company’s sustainability efforts. Fortune 500 companies have created positions such as Chief Sustainability Officers or Directors to ensure their sustainability objectives are met.
2. Engage your business partners
As a business, you can do everything possible to ensure the drive of your environmental and social impacts within your operations, but you can only advance in a big way if you align with your suppliers, distributors and other members in your value chain. Effective collaboration is the key to accelerating sustainability across your industry or value chain. This collaboration is bound to help you and your industry peers, as well as environmental organizations, to reduce the negative impact of your operations and potentially innovate new processes and products toward this end.
3. Engage customers regarding the need for sustainability
You can only do so much without the support of your customers. If they are unwilling to purchase products perceived to be environmentally friendly or fair-trade products, integrating sustainability into your business will be difficult. You need to engage customers nationally about sustainability so they can make decisions based on sustainable living as well as responsible consumption. Most customers purchase products depending on the price or features, and not whether they are using recycled materials or environmentally friendly packaging. Therefore, as a business you need to engage with customers and convince them to commit to recycling, responsible consumption, carpooling and more.
4. Communicate sustainability goals throughout your organization
It is highly important that you design a way to effectively communicate your business’s vision of sustainability to everyone in your organization. Each and every individual, regardless of their role in the company, needs to understand and embrace that sustainability vision. Integration of sustainability into companies has been difficult, especially because sustainability and corporate social responsibility implementation remain the job of a single person or department within many companies.
5. Develop conditions that support sustainability-related innovations
The NBS’s report on Innovating for Sustainability, produced in 2013, described various ways companies and businesses can reduce their negative impact on the environment, create positive social changes that benefit their business, and re-create/develop their business models. As a business, you should not consider integrating innovation-related sustainability plans as risky. Instead, drive your company’s innovation by looking for trends in emerging economies and other industries, creating partnerships with colleges to fill any knowledge gaps within your organization, and developing incentives to reward employees who suggest ways to advance recycling, save energy, improve product sustainability and other ideas.
All in all, highlighting your company’s sustainability efforts and being open to the public about it can noticeably profit your company. Work on promoting your company’s use of green technology as well as other social and environmental initiatives. Your company will benefit greatly by receiving positive PR (public relations) with both your current and potential customers.