Environmental sustainability is critically important to saving both money and energy, while also boosting brand reputation to attract talented staff and investors.
Posted on April 2022 By James Egremont
An ongoing series of disruptions, from climatic to viral to technological to geopolitical, have made sustainability an essential issue across the business world. Yet even beyond reasons of self-interest, the reality of resource scarcity and environmental impact has long since reached mainstream consumer culture. Surveys show that a clear majority of people would stop buying from companies that don’t care about climate change. Even apart from any gains in efficiency and resource independence, such strongly held views make sustainability an issue that can no longer be ignored.
As the world moves toward a post-Covid future, companies and customers alike are beginning to reassess their impact on the environment, looking with dissatisfaction at the careless ways business had been done in the past. Recovering from a crisis has led many to realise that we are now facing a time of new opportunities, with new ways of doing things – and an imperative to respect the delicate ecosystem of which we are a part.
While this responsibility can appear daunting, the reality is that new ways of doing things represents a golden opportunity for businesses to become leaders in their industry. All it takes is the will, and the skill, to adapt to new trends.
We will now explore the benefits of implementing sustainability in business. We’ll look at how progress in this area can help the company, as well as the planet, while generating goodwill among both customers and staff. By acting more responsibly in the service of larger values and ideals, companies that make the necessary moves now are poised to become market leaders.
Save money and energy
For businesses that pursue the path of sustainability, reducing one’s carbon footprint can save a lot of money and preserve resources in a time of global supply chain disruption. Such a move also lightens the burden on the planet, as it means using fewer natural resources, which in turn saves energy. At a time of rising instability in the world’s energy-producing regions, this kind of efficiency improvement significantly mitigates business risk as well.
Utilising better recycling practices and reusing/reducing waste also cut costs as well. A report by The New Climate Economy found that 95% of plastic packaging is wasted after first use, representing $120 billion annually. Customers are widely aware of this trend, as well as its relationship to climate change – and therefore show a strong preference for biodegradable packaging and eco-friendly products. Intel and Apple are among the many companies that have instituted in-house recycling programmes and extended this service to customers as well. They have become leaders in an industry that had previously been known for its waste and difficulty in recycling, and their efforts have effectively differentiated them from other electronics manufacturers.
Environmentally sustainable companies face a distinct advantage as purchasing trends clearly show a customer preference for such products. Becoming responsible stewards of the environment also represents an added value in terms of marketing and brand goodwill, leading to better sales and market share, as well as improved customer retention and loyalty. Clear sustainability achievements also provide a built-in market differentiator at points-of-sale.
Boost brand value and reputation
In the past, some companies had been hesitant to make these changes due to the fear of added costs. But in a time of rising supply chain instability, depletion of natural resources, and increased market competition, companies that have a good reputation as an environmental steward instantly elevate themselves from the competition and insulate themselves against external instability. Giant companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Disney have realised the importance of such proactive measures, and elevated their brands by actively reducing waste. They now openly advertise these changes as a way of increasing their brand awareness.
“Going green” shows customers and staff that you care about more than just making money. LEGO is an excellent example of a company that has recently generated significant brand awareness and goodwill by shifting towards sustainability. The toy manufacturer has already begun producing pieces from plant-based plastics, with the goal of producing all materials sustainably for its core products by 2030. Other companies have likewise cultivated a green reputation through various CSR activities, to create a positive perception of their brand in the eyes of consumers.
In the same way, companies can save money by investing in energy-efficient buildings with modern A/C units and LED lighting. Going “paperless,” shifting towards Post-Consumer Waste (PCW) paper, and investing in reusable water bottles and cups can also help cut costs while increasing sustainability.
Moreover, becoming more environmentally sustainable leads to better working conditions for employees. More greenery in the workplace elevates the office atmosphere, and can even reduce air pollutants, leading to better staff experiences and higher retention rates.
The trend towards more “work from home” options is another aspect of our post-Covid future that today’s companies must recognise. Many companies have realised that many types of employees are fully capable of performing their jobs remotely – an insight that has led to the growth of hybrid offices. Such an operational model represents massive cost savings for companies with large office footprints. By reducing employee numbers on-site and shifting to a compressed work week, companies can save significantly on overhead costs such as lighting and heating.
Perks such as public transportation credits can also reduce many fixed costs for companies, with little to no reduction in staff performance – all while potentially generating significant improvements in staff morale. Carpooling can also create a better sense of community between workers, while reducing the need for parking infrastructure. A single employee can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 pounds per day by sharing their commute with a co-worker.
With climate change issues escalating, potential employees are more likely to work for a sustainability-minded company. In fact, some may even be willing to take a pay cut to work at an environmentally responsible company. Companies should therefore actively implement sustainability measures, and attract like-minded talent. To facilitate this process, they can use a professional recruitment agency as well. Purpose-driven companies, whose employees buy into a common vision, are far more attractive to investors, given their built-in goodwill and reputation.
Environmental sustainability may have started out as a buzzword, but by now it is a necessity. Companies that recognise this truth will benefit immensely, while insulating their businesses from disruption – climate-change related and otherwise.
Of course, such a transformation will require sustainability-minded talent. We at Connexus can help you build the right team to help you lead the way forward within your industry. Contact us today to find out how we can help.
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