Do you stack up with sustainability practices?

5 ways to ensure your business practices are sustainable



Conscious consumption

‘Sustainability’ is the word on everyone’s lips. Conscious consumption is, and needs to be, the purchasing model of the future. Across the globe companies are bringing in drastic sustainable development initiatives to align themselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and other schemes which aim to reduce our environmental footprint.

Aside from the obvious positive impact on the planet, there are a plethora of reasons that businesses should start paying attention to their sustainability processes.

Conscious consumption

Where to start?

Thinking like a customer…

One reason for businesses to take notice is consumer pressure. In a 2015 global survey of 30,000 people across 60 countries, nearly three out of four millennials said they were willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings. Businesses that aren’t heeding this change in consumer behaviour could lose out to competitors with a clearer agenda. Many companies have been ‘called-out’ on social media for their lack of sustainability.

Thinking like an investor…

On a similar vein, investors are also becoming much more savvy about parting with capital. A recent survey suggested that 44% of investors say that they divest from companies with poor sustainability performance. There are many reasons for this, but future-proofing an investment is an important one. As governments and initiatives role out progressively more demanding sustainability measures, companies need to be ahead of the curve. Businesses who aren’t ready to accept change and become environmentally focused are likely to run into hard times - not a sensible place to be if you’re looking for investment. The longevity of a business now depends on its long term, environmental viability.

Thinking like a partner…

Just as investors shy away from fast-production, so will potential partners. Sustainability, like any new initiative, is expensive. If businesses are not already implementing the necessary steps, they may find themselves facing costly fines or having to evaluate their supply chain at short notice. Small steps need to be exhibited at every step in the production process, to demonstrate a genuine commitment to becoming more sustainable.

Thinking like an employee…

In order for a company to grow, function and thrive, it’s employees must be content. Sustainability is becoming increasingly high on the wishlists of employees and future talent. Companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20% and 67% of people want to work for a company whose values are consistent with their own.

IMD: Why all business should embrace sustainability, 2016

Gulf Business: The business of sustainability, 2018

The National: Happiness in the workplace underpins a sustainable business environment, 2017

Companies For Good: Profit is no long er enough

Where to start?

How can you ensure your business is sustainable?

  1. Start small

Whilst huge sustainability goals are incredibly admirable, they aren’t always sustainable themselves. Simple changes such as switching to LED lightbulbs, recycling printing and electrical equipment or encouraging car-share and cycle to work schemes are a great place to start. Removing as much plastic packaging from the office itself can make a huge difference, before looking into the sustainability of the products themselves.

  1. Become accountable

Consumers want to buy from sustainable companies, as previously discussed. A good way to encourage sustainability, reassure customers and instill confidence in staff, is to publically voice environmental aims. A 2017 Unilever study found that 33% of consumers want to buy from brands “doing social or environmental good” - let them know that you’re trying.

  1. Work together

EWS-WWF’s Al Nuaimi was recently quoted as saying “we know that one organisation alone can’t effect the change needed. The changes we want to see in the world can only come about through the efforts of many actors including local communities, multinational corporations, governments and NGOs”. Initiatives that inspire change through community, art and conversation are far more successful than setting hard targets and seemingly insurmountable aims. Join forces with local campaigns and companies to help spread the message. 

  1. Utilizing technology

Smart meters, intelligent lighting and IT equipment which reports on usage are all easily accessible and integrated into offices. Targets can relate to anything from energy consumption to reducing paper usage, but utilising technology makes the process more streamlined and trackable.

Other than looking after the surrounding world, it’s a smart fiscal decision for companies to pay diligent attention to their sustainability responsibility. Stakeholders, employees and consumers are educated and concerned when it comes to where they focus their time, energy and money. No investors wishes to be embroiled in a scandal, such as those we have seen in recent years.

Sustainability does not just mean the environmental impact of a company. It's now closely linked the future-proofing of industry and business. In order for any company to thrive, within the Middle East and the wider world, it must put sustainability at the forefront of its endeavours.

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