How to Integrate Environmental Sustainability into Your Business Strategy

How to Integrate Environmental Sustainability into Your Business Strategy

Being climate-conscious may not be easy, but by following these steps you can make sure you go about it the right way.

It would be an understatement to say that protecting the environment is one of the most pressing concerns in the world today. Extreme weather conditions are becoming increasingly common in today’s world, from floods in Malaysia to heatwaves in India and Antarctica. These are just a few of the unnatural weather occurrences that have happened this year so far. 

In such a dire situation, it is paramount that businesses also put in the effort of becoming sustainable from the ground up. To this effect, many major companies, such as Google, Nike and Disney, have begun putting in the effort to be more environmentally friendly. If you are new to running a business, sustainability can be a challenge. To make the process a little simpler for you, here is a guide to running a climate-conscious business: 

Get a clear picture of how sustainable your business is right now

Before you begin thinking about what sustainability initiatives you want to instate, it is important to get a clear picture of how things are currently being done. This means doing some research on sustainability-related aspects, like your company’s resource usage, carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Today, you can analyze collected data using specific sustainability analysis tools, like risk assessment, benefit-cost analysis and life cycle assessment. These tools help you make decisions not only based on current or past conditions but also factoring in how situations will change in the future. Once you have this information, you need to figure out how to be sustainable while maintaining or increasing productivity without incurring further costs.

Encourage prolonged conversation on sustainability 

When you do realize where you need to make changes, it is then pertinent to encourage people within the organization to implement said changes. This can be done through training and active communication about the upcoming sustainability initiatives. You can invite guest speakers to talk about climate consciousness and host workshops around climate change to tell your employees that sustainability is a priority for the company. 

Incentivizing sustainable supplier behavior 

Besides this, businesses also need to engage in conversations about sustainability with their suppliers. After all, a business is only as sustainable as all of its moving parts. Make sure that your suppliers are also compliant with your policies before you begin sharing your sustainability efforts with your investors and the public. You can encourage suppliers to pursue climate-friendly practices by giving out supplier awards, motivating your suppliers to improve their reputation, which can in turn help them get more clients. 

Maintain transparency 

In the recent past, many companies, like H&M and Nestlé, have been found guilty of greenwashing (pretending to be eco-friendly but not actually taking the right steps to achieve sustainability). Needless to say, greenwashing scandals can adversely affect your brand reputation. While big brands can bounce back from these scandals, it is much harder for small businesses to do so. 

Today, around 42% of customers look at a brand’s label to read about their sustainability efforts. This should be a clear indication that customers want to know how their products are being made. Therefore, it is important to have a data-driven approach to sustainability. One of the ways of doing so is using blockchain technology to track your supply chain. This can help give customers and all other stakeholders credible information about where the product (or parts of it) are manufactured and whether they meet all the relevant quality and sustainability standards. 

Set achievable sustainability goals

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that even though 90% of the participating executives considered sustainability important, only 60% actually made it a part of their business strategy. Perhaps one of the reasons why this might be the case is that sustainability goals often end up becoming unachievable. 

Your goals don’t have to be something as big as going completely carbon-neutral by 2030. You can instead focus on smaller tasks, such as reducing the use of plastic packaging in your products by a specific period of time. However, to actually achieve this, you need to consistently track progress and stay accountable to all the stakeholders about how you are progressing. 

Remember that the path to sustainability is not straightforward. The economic impact of certain practices as well as government policies will consistently keep on changing. To stay abreast of these changes, your sustainability program needs to be constantly updated as well. 

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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