Commitment to sustainability begins at the top. Without an unwavering commitment from management, environmental projects are usually left undone. Since profitability is the main metric by which leaders are measured, employees are often directed to focus only on revenue generating tasks.
Today, most highly visible companies have recognized the value in adopting strategies that promote sustainability and environmental consciousness. A high percentage of consumers prefer products from companies that project positive views of sustainability.
1. Read about how sustainability is critical for future growth and market perception.
In 2012, the Sheldon Group published a study to determine the impact of sustainability on American consumer choices. Researchers divided the population into four groups: Actives, Seekers, Indifferents, and Skeptics. The results showed:
- Actives: Of those surveyed, 23 percent were individuals who considered themselves “green.” They make buying choices based upon whether a company or product is perceived as sustainable.
- Seekers: 33 percent were new to selecting products based upon their environmental friendliness and, with all else being equal, would choose the sustainable option.
- Indifferents: 16 percent of consumers do not actively seek sustainable products and make their choices based upon price and perceived value alone.
- Skeptics: 28 percent choose to believe that the benefits of environmental friendliness are fictional and likely more expensive.
Companies around the world have already viewed results from this study and scores of other surveys that also show a growing majority of consumers prefer sustainable products. As a result, companies are actively embracing the concept of sustainability and have been integrating strategies into their mission statements.
2. Integrate sustainability into your company’s business model.
Maintaining profitability is a challenge for any business working toward sustainable practices. Processes that conserve energy and water are helping to drive profitability rather than limit it. Raw materials from natural or organic sources are performing as well or better than complicated petrochemical-based products. Moreover, many of the best sustainability ideas are coming from office staffs or the factory floor, where most of your company's activity resides.
3. Educate employees about sustainable practices.
After a sustainability leader is chosen to provide direction and coordination, the next step is to educate your entire company about the positive benefits of sustainable practices. The leader should empower every employee to play a role in moving the company toward. Sharing your company’s sustainability strategies and specific goals is important to achieving company-wide participation and ultimately enhance your reputation in the eyes of consumers.
4. Conduct brainstorm sessions with employees to leverage new ideas and bring sustainable solutions to the table.
Engaging employees in a brainstorming session can uncover innovative ideas for reducing energy and water usage, eliminating waste, and adjusting processes. Allowing individuals to express their ideas enhances their engagement in the process, fostering continued commitment, involvement, and progress.
5. Enhance all aspects of your community with a sustainable and holistic business approach.
As individuals learn more about the positive effects of sustainability at work, employees frequently transfer their new knowledge to their personal lives. Many employees will alter their buying habits as they feel more commitment to and pride in their own environment. Companies that have adopted a “greener” approach to business participate in more community activities to support their image as a responsible corporate citizen.
How do you promote sustainability in your business and community? Share your thoughts below in the comments!