Sustainability is the single biggest challenge facing business today. The word itself clearly defines the gravity of the situation. What is the opposite of sustainable? If you or your business are not sustainable, what are you?
If we look at the multiple indications of the fragility of our world. Covid is the most obvious but there are multiple concerns of various magnitude from global to local. As I write this the scale of the floods in Germany are being reported, a clear indication of the impact of climate change uncomfortably close to home. Shortage of labour is also an issue in the current news. Yes, the recruitment and retention of labour is a sustainability issue. As is security of supply chains.
The world is changing fast and everyone in business is well aware of the need to stay relevant in this rapidly changing environment. The way consumers react to your brand is also changing. Younger consumers consider a brand’s sustainability policy as the most important factor in influencing their purchase decisions. When evaluating potential employers, a company’s sustainability protocol is the second most important consideration amongst candidates. Social media provides transparency and instance exposure. Look at the social media backlash to Brew Dog following their announcement of their recently acquired B Corporation accreditation. Business must be clear and credible if they want to recruit and retain employees and have brands and services which are desired and relevant.
A lot of confusion definitely exists regarding what sustainability actually means to businesses especially those in the SME sector. As one business owner recently said to me “as long as China keeps building coal fired power stations what on earth do you expect me to do.” Clearly this guy does not grasp the issue, however he is not alone and companies definitely need expert help to guide them through the process of evaluating the implications of securing a sustainable future. Yes, GHG emissions, global warming, pollution and loss of habitat and resource are a huge issue, notwithstanding there are many factors at a local level which are equally important in creating a sustainable business which has a real positive impact.
All of the above plus more are illustrations of the considerations that must be included in a sustainability protocol.
Everyone’s eyes are focused on this, the pandemic has actually been a catalyst for business change, societal change, consumer behavioral change. We are so much more aware of the fragility of our world. Businesses which respond now will be those which prosper going forward.
Your stakeholders will start asking you about your policies and “yes of course we care, and we recycle what we can” will not be judged an adequate response. This type of statement is being described as “Apple Pie Statements”.
A leading UK supermarket is now asking for a copy of the suppliers Sustainability Protocol with all new NPD submissions.
At a challenging time for business this activity may be viewed as an expensive disruptive luxury which can be postponed for better times in future. “We just need to focus on the core activity right now” is a phrase I have heard a few times. I believe this is a mistake not just for the reasons stated above. Many case studies have shown that businesses with a clear sustainability protocol have lower input costs, less waste, lower staff retention costs, higher margins, more loyal customers, more reliable suppliers and overall are far better businesses.
The bottom line is that Sustainable Businesses are more profitable valued and valuable businesses.
As EMC’s sustainability specialist, I can conduct an initial sustainability audit designed to give your business an independent insight into the key challenges and opportunities which are specifically relevant to your business in terms of developing a robust sustainability protocol. EMC can provide you with the “Road Map”.
We can work with you and develop a management team responsible for the development and implementation of the Protocol.
You may wish to go down a more formal certification route, such as B Corporation Accreditation. We can help advise in this regard.
As always with EMC we welcome a coffee real or virtual and a chat. If you would like to discuss how we can help you plot a path to a more sustainable future, please drop me a line or give me a call. Sustainability has joined our Boardroom. Is it time it joined yours?
Head of Sustainability
EMC Management Consultants LTD
Andrew holds qualification in Business Sustainability Leadership from Cambridge University CISL (Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership). His passionate belief in the importance of Sustainability as a Force for Good in the world and in business is backed by knowledge and qualifications in the subject.Back to all news