The need to be environmentally conscious has hit a tipping point. Here’s how engaging in sustainability could make a difference to your business, your customers and to the world.
A business’ survival is dependent on its customers. After all, it can only grow and succeed as long as it has a customer need to respond to. While this isn’t breaking news, it’s good to remember that customers hold the power. And it’s this power that means businesses all over the world are in constant competition for their attention and approval. So, just how can your business come out on top?
One way for you to stand out is to factor sustainability into your way of working, especially as people are more socially aware than ever before. Whether it’s in the news or on the catwalk, demands for sustainable and ethical practices are growing and expected in every aspect of life. In fact, according to last year’s Ethical Markets Report, the value of ethical spending grew by 3.2% to £81.3 billion.
But you can’t keep up with these customer expectations for the sake of competition. You have to prove that your business has an authentic commitment to sustainability and are transparent in the way you implement it. Fail, and you’ll not only lose the trust of your customers, but the momentum driving your business forward.
Here’s a breakdown of how becoming a sustainable business could transform your future for the better:
Stand out from the sea of same
As mentioned, sustainability is a means to set your business apart from the competition and win the approval of your customers – new and existing. Today, more and more consumers consider a company’s impact on the environment before purchasing any goods or services and, those that do, are more likely to show loyalty to a company that has sustainable habits.
The cosmetics retailer Lush, for example, is an ethical heavy-weight, selling natural products that are free from animal testing. It champions sustainability through its vegan products (which account for 80% of its entire range), unpackaged goods, black pot recycling scheme and numerous environmental campaigns. At the end of June 2017, it saw sales surge 26% to £723 million, proving that as a big brand, being dedicated to a cause is a unique selling point.
Leave a lasting impression
By engaging in sustainability, you’ll show your employees and customers that you have a commitment that stretches beyond your office to the wider world. And, by factoring it into your long-term plan, you’ll safeguard your business’ future and create a legacy from which other generations can live by. Both will give you the reassurance that your positive brand image will remain for years to come.
Take sustainable clothing company, Patagonia for instance. Since the business’ first national environmental campaign thirty years ago, it has taken on a new project year on year, from dam removals to wildlands preservation. For Patagonia, sustainability is not a business add-on, it’s integrated into the brand itself, which is why its mission statement is, “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” – a statement that will live on as long as the business exists.
Attract the best from the talent pool
As a socially conscious business, you’ll boost your chances of attracting the best from the new generation of workers. For many millennials, making a difference at work isn’t enough, they want to make a difference to the communities around them, so by aligning your values with theirs, you’ll spark their interest as a potential employer.
However, thanks to the internet, millennials are used to expressing their social concerns with ease; their voices can reach a global audience at the click of a button. So, with technology as an additional competitor, you have to prove that you can also make their voices heard, and you have a genuine wish to do so.
Give your office a sustainable spruce
Being sustainable doesn’t always have to be outward facing, it can also be for the benefit of your internal business community. From ensuring your IT devices are up-to-date to ensuring your using energy efficiently, sustainable practices have a significant impact on the way your employees work.
For example, if your employees’ laptops are well past their use-by date, the likelihood is, they’re slow-running, use more energy and require regular servicing. As a result, they leave your employees feeling unproductive and frustrated. So, running regular IT audits, recycling any old devices and doing a device refresh is a good place to start when thinking about effective sustainability.
Go green to innovate
Sustainability also gives way to innovation. It has the potential to open doors for your business and allow you to explore new territories, like Green Tech. This refers to a class of companies that use technology to reduce the impact on the environment; companies that you could collaborate with to improve your green footprint.
One start-up, making the most out of this growing market is Pavegan. It’s on a mission to transform the way we think about our footfall in a future of Smart Cities. It’s built floor tiles, which when walked on produce kinetic energy to power electricity, and real-time data to monitor users’ footsteps and movement patterns.
Becoming an all-rounded, sustainable business won’t happen overnight. It takes a well-laid plan, robust resources and a genuine commitment to applying it to everything you do. But by bringing your efforts to life through authentic storytelling – one where you’re the hero – you’ll reap the rewards of sustainability. From creating a legacy to attracting top talent, it’ll allow you to take the steps towards a brighter future.
Want to incorporate sustainability into your agenda? Then say hello to the Internet of Things (IoT). Learn how the data it generates has the potential to create greener businesses and a greener world.