This article looks at sustainability within the context of the modern business enterprise. It explores 3 reasons why sustainability should be a core competency of any business in 2017.

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1.     Innovation

Sustainability and innovation go together. Innovation is about new ideas, new devices and new methodologies. Sustainability is about reforming organisations and making them viable for the long-run. In many ways they are two sides of the same coin.

All businesses want to innovate more. All businesses want to be the recognised leader for innovation in their field. Innovation is by no means easy. But it is easier to lead than it is to follow, if your competitor has a first mover advantage.

Sustainability can be integrated into any business or industry. Some examples include:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Technologies

These are all areas where an organisational focus on sustainability can deliver enormous business benefits.

The demand is out there and the green consumer is extremely active in business to business and business to consumer markets.

All organisations have their own sustainability challenges; many will even have tough sustainability targets to hit. If you can create an offering that makes sustainability simple and easy for people, business and environmental interests can coalesce.

The key takeaway is that businesses whether they innovate a lot or a looking to innovate more should look to sustainability to develop new solutions.

2.   Build a better business

A great way to build a better business is through sustainability.

A common misconception is that sustainability will make a business’s operations more complex. When in fact, the truth is that sustainability is more likely to make a business’s operations leaner and more strategic. Some myths, however inaccurate prove challenging to debunk.

Sustainability can help businesses to cut costs, to generate new revenue streams, to motivate and engage employees and manage risks. A fuller description of some of the many opportunities that sustainability can deliver is available via the link below.

10 Opportunities That Sustainability Can Deliver

The great thing about sustainability is that providing your solutions are cost effective, they should have a mass market appeal.

People with a keen interest in social and environmental problems will buy them because they want to do the right thing. But providing you can save your customer’s money, people who are less interested in these issues will buy them anyway if they like to save money. This is a key distinction between sustainability and less business friendly forms of environmentalism.

The key takeaway is that sustainability is about building a better world. There is a robust business case for sustainability. In many ways sustainability has become a proxy for good management. If you want to build a better business, then making sustainability an organisational priority is a good place to start.

3.   Stakeholder expectations

Robust action on sustainability is increasingly expected by your stakeholders.

You can argue about whether sustainability is or is not mainstream. If you don’t believe it to be yet, all I can suggest is that you look what’s happening and look at the direction of travel. The direction of travel is towards a new normal, where sustainability becomes the norm.

That’s not to say that everything is okay and there is nothing to worry about, just that at least now people are aware that there is a sustainability equation waiting to be solved.

Failing to take sustainability seriously can mean that people will shop with competitors who do have sustainability credentials. Worse still is the reputational harm that can be done to a company’s brand value as a result of not taking sustainability or corporate social responsibility seriously. This can haunt a company for years, even decades after they have switched to behaving responsibly.

The key takeaway is that sustainability is leading to a new normal, where businesses are expected to play a role in solving social and environmental problems. This is an exciting time and your business should be at the forefront of making change happen.

What you need to know

This article took a whistle-stop tour of the role that sustainability play’s within the context of the modern business enterprise.

It explored 3 reasons why sustainability should be a core competency of any business in 2017. The list is by no means exhaustive and there may well be a part 2. Please comment below if you would like to see this.

The following 3 reasons were looked at in detail:

1.     Innovation

2.    Build a better business

3.    Stakeholder expectations

In closing, the overall takeaway is that for businesses looking for something to ignite innovation, they should choose sustainability.

For businesses that are looking for quick wins and ways of improving, the business case for sustainability is robust and and continues to strengthen.

Stakeholder expectations for sustainability have never been higher.

You should choose sustainability; you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. It’s great to hear about other people’s experiences in taking sustainability forward.

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby




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