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If you want to be a successful business for the foreseeable future, sustainability should be more than a buzzword for your company.
Terms like “sustainability,” “ESG,” and “socially conscious” have become quite the corporate buzzwords. However, if you’re tempted to simply check the box, think again.
A sincere commitment to sustainability can pay off in a myriad of ways — not to mention preserves trust, because a lack of integrity where sustainability is concerned threatens your relationship with both employees and customers.
Here’s what I have learned from embedding this value deep into our business strategy.
Related: What You Can Learn From the Rise of Sustainability-Focused Entrepreneurship
The consciousness of sustainable practices and products has risen dramatically in the last few decades. Whether it be shifting generational expectations, the climate crisis, or other motivating factors, consumers value brands that prioritize sustainability. A quick look at the numbers: When given a choice, 32% of millennials will choose a sustainable option over a non-sustainable one, and 47% of companies said sustainability had an impact on their recruiting and retention. And investors understand it, too: 90% of investors said they pay attention to how sustainable a business is.
How to implement it:
Related: How to Turn Sustainability Into a Brand and Business Strength
The concept of sustainability goes far beyond the realm of ESG. It’s a method of growth and a mindset that can transform the way a company strategizes and performs.
The temptation to think short-term — how to meet this month’s target, how to put out fires with temporary Band-Aids — is all too great in startup culture. Adopting a sustainable mindset means evaluating the longer-term impact of short-term decision-making, as well as investing in future growth with no expectation of short-term returns. Ultimately, the two blend together: Yesterday’s investments become today’s harvest, as you continue to plan for tomorrow.
How to implement it:
Related: Are Your Company’s Sustainability Efforts Failing? Here’s What May Be Blocking Your Success.
Everything flows from a company’s mission. Therefore, if you make sustainability a part of your mission, you’ll have automatically embedded its virtues into your DNA.
My advice is therefore to take a genuine look at your mission, and understand how sustainability naturally fits in. I’d go further and say that anyone running a company in this century has a responsibility to do so. Climate change is not a future problem; it’s here, now. According to NASA, the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, intense heat waves and catastrophic weather events are becoming more and more prevalent.
If your industry’s connection to sustainability feels more indirect, ask yourself how to tie it into your company values and product offerings in a really authentic way. Successful examples are plentiful, ranging from outdoor gear — with Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet pledge and the CEO’s recent decision to give away the company to fight climate change — to makeup, like Thrive Causemetics‘ commitment to cruelty-free ingredients.
Ultimately, this is an exercise in defining and living your values — and doing good along the way.
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