How to make sustainability work for your business

We’ve seen some great examples of ambitious business targets in the media over the past few weeks relating to the environment and sustainability. There was Apple, committing to buying 100% of their materials from recycled sources, then there was Whitbread (who own premier inns and Costa) reaching their target of achieving 100% renewable energy. Finally, Carlsberg recently promised to halve their brewery water use by half by 2030 and completely cut their carbon emissions to zero. These ambitious targets have gained a lot of media attention, and as a result, are likely to have a very positive impact on the companies’ reputations. Companies are starting to embed sustainability into their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and the way they do business, using it to set themselves apart from their competitors.
But if you’re a smaller business, which doesn’t have the same resources as these multimillion pound global companies, then don’t be disheartened. All sizes and types of organisation can reap the benefits of working in a more sustainable way.

The Triple Bottom Line

The basics of sustainability
Sustainability covers 3 different areas:

1. Environmental sustainability
2. Social sustainability
3. Economic sustainability.
This trio is often termed the ‘Triple Bottom Line’. The environment part is vital. Simply put, we wouldn’t be here at all if our planet wasn’t a comfortable climate and it didn’t offer us the necessary resources that we need to live. It includes issues such as climate change, emissions, use of water, resource use, waste, and biodiversity.

The social element, fundamentally, is how we treat each other as human beings. It is how we behave as business, it is our morals and our ethics, how we work in our communities, and how we treat our employees.

Economics is our way of making sense of goods and services. Making a profit and contributing to local economies is central to being a sustainable and successful business in the future.

How to benefit from sustainability
An effective business strategy for sustainability considers all of the environmental, social, and economic aspects, and incorporates them into existing work practices. Sustainability shouldn’t be viewed as an ‘add on’ or a ‘tick box’ exercise to show that your business is ‘green’. Clients and customers are starting to see past these claims and are demanding more transparency of supply chains, and evidence of how companies are reducing their impact on the environment and benefiting local communities. Putting systems in place and ensuring they are filtered down through your business will need an initial investment, and we know it can be complex and daunting to make such integral changes to your organisation. But if you can become a more sustainable business, and communicate your performance and successes with your customers and stakeholders, you can win more work, build your reputation, minimise risk, and allow your business to thrive into the future.

We can help you simplify what sustainability might mean for your business. One of the ways in which we can do this is through a free of charge Business Review. This will provide you with expert, external knowledge and an understanding of where you are currently performing well, and where the gaps lie for you to make positive impacts. We can advise on ‘quick wins’, as well as longer-term strategies for sustainability, ultimately to help you save money, win work, and become more competitive. All of our services are tailored; therefore, we can focus on different areas depending upon your priorities.
Contact us on 01509 320 100 to put a meeting in the diary with one of our consultants, or alternatively email info@responsible-solutions.co.uk.