Sustainability has moved from nice ‘add on’ to an imperative for business argues Sharon Farren, co-founder of Kokoro Organics
The concept of sustainability has been moving steadily into the mainstream for a number of years. Now, as we approach the middle of 2021, we have an even bigger reason to consider sustainability seriously as we emerge from lockdown and learn to live with a new virus.
From an ecological and environmental perspective, the case for sustainability is watertight. But it makes perfect business sense too and below are four reasons why:
1. Sustainability is a key differentiating factor
Forbes, in mid 2020, published an article on how leading large corporate brands were viewing sustainability as a key way to distinguish themselves within their markets.
In many ways, millennials and Generation Z are driving this change among Fortune 500 companies but they are by no means on their own. In fact, a recent report by Aflac, one of America’s largest insurance firms, claims that 77% of all consumers (Baby Boomers and Generation X included) are more willing to purchase from companies with clear sustainability credentials.
2. Your customers want you to be greener
Individual consumers woke up to the need to be more environmentally-friendly way before brands did. And they’re delighted that companies have finally joined them in their mission to treat the planet with more care.
But individuals now want brands to really show how they’re implementing sustainability policies in their businesses to be more eco-friendly. This is not a nice add-on any longer, but an essential part of what will make consumers spend their money with you.
For brands that proactively position sustainability as central to how their business is run, the rewards are big
3. Hire the right talent easier
Being green is not just how you manufacture your products or dispose of your waste. Now, it is also an essential part of your recruitment and retention processes.
Talented individuals are looking to feel pride in the company they work for. A paycheck is no longer the exclusive driving force for potential employees as they embark on their job searches.
Job seekers want to feel that their values and the values of the company are in alignment. This contributes to feelings of pride and builds a strong employer brand. Additionally, since sustainability policies speak of how a brand cares for the environment, employees draw the same conclusion for how a company treats their staff.
Regularly communicating how your business practises true sustainability, and how you involve your team members in these practices, will go a long way to creating a stellar experience for your employees – and attract the quality of talent you want to hire.
4. Sustainability adds to your bottom line
Embedding sustainability deep within your organisation’s values and living up to reducing your environmental footprint also has a positive impact on your bottom line. Firstly, with more sustainable practices in place you future-proof your supply chain and make it more robust.
Secondly, sustainable “certification also improves productivity and net income”, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article. Sustainability initiatives for cocoa farms prove this.
The same article goes on to say “Net income was also significantly higher on certified cocoa farms than non certified: $403 versus $113 USD per hectare.” For brands that proactively position sustainability as central to how their business is run, the rewards are big. Sustainability drives innovation, revenue and profits, and brand loyalty from employees and customers alike.