Sustainability is the new way to talk business, if you haven’t heard
By Joan Yap on August 15 , 2017
Sustainability is the new sexy
We have all been hearing the term ‘Sustainability’ for a while now, be it loosely used to mean that the ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’ check boxes have been ticked off, or to mean serious business i.e. the likes of big data, sustainability reports or policies, being put in action to cultivate behaviour changes in and outside of business.
Brands are jumping on the green bandwagon, mostly motivated by the sheer significance consumers have recently placed on the need to care for Mother Earth. And we can’t blame them.
According to Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2015, brand trust tops the list of sustainability factors that influence purchasing decisions, with 62% of consumers saying it’s an important factor.
Even within an organization, products that come with the sustainability label perform better than those that do not take steps to communicate their environmental footprint and social impact. Case in point, Unilever’s ‘Sustainability Living’ brands are growing 50% faster than the rest of the business and accounted for 60% of growth in 2016.
So, where do we go after claiming our stake as a green business with our ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’ strategy?
Scroll on to find out how we can turn this overwhelm into opportunities.
Check off these directives and we are on our way!
Sustainability Reporting – Have you adopted this new communication currency?
Truthful consumerism has kicked in, thanks to the insane connectivity explosion that is empowering people on an unprecedented scale in search of transparent communication and platforms to express their concern.
The new reality is that businesses need to come clean, or be seen making efforts to show that the organization has done the necessary steps to run its operations in an ethical and sustainable way. If you have cut your carbon footprint by 30%, talk about it. If you haven’t and have the wish to step up, talk about it too. It will grow brand love, we promise you.
Sustainability Starts from Within – Cultivate Green Warriors for Long-Term Business Leadership.
3M pioneered its ‘Pollution Prevention Pays’ program in 1975 to eliminate pollution at the source through product reformulation, process modification, equipment redesign, and the recycling and reuse of waste materials.
The policy was implemented across its organization and supply chain to show that 3M means big business when they go on their sustainability path. Not only did the organization embark on its journey to doing business more sustainably, it also translated to over billion of dollars of cost savings from the first year of the project.
Sustainability Powers the New Consumerism Future
Help consumers achieve their sustainable goals and the business will take care of itself, somehow. IKEA went from almost no LED sales to 63 million within six years, an impressive business growth while communicating its aim to enable consumers to play a role for a greener environment by saving energy and extending bulb lifespan.
Sustainability needs Allies
Again, this is simply because sustainability is not just about turning off the lights or putting that waste paper into the recycling bin. It requires collective effort, by businesses and also the involvement of consumers and partners to keep the conversation going, if we are serious about the sustainability of our future.
It is about building an eco-system of the like-minded, be it caring for wildlife or looking into ways of energy conservation, to leverage on each party’s strengths to amplify influence and impact. Think COP21 Paris Agreement – but really, we do not have to be the head of a country to start seeking allies.
Do you have a Sustainability Recovery Game Plan?
In the 1990s, Nike was exposed for unfair labour practices within its complex supply chains including running sweatshops and using child labour. The company made a 180- degree turnaround by acknowledging the issues, creating partnerships with NGOs and government agencies, changing their global procurement systems and reducing their dependency on scarce resources.
Transparency and innovation became part of the culture as Nike positioned sustainability at the core of their business – a true villian to hero success story.
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