With the current climate crisis, sustainability is one of the most significant problems in the world at the moment. More and more of us are trying to find ways to lessen our impact on the environment. It affects all of us, so why shouldn’t we do more to make a change? But making a difference shouldn’t just be left to the most environmentally conscious people. So, what exactly does corporate sustainability mean? And, what can your business do to make a change for the environment? Let’s take a look at corporate sustainability:
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What is corporate sustainability?
So, what is corporate sustainability? Simply put, corporate sustainability refers to a business delivering its services in a way that is environmentally sustainable while also supporting its own economic growth. A company with corporate sustainability focuses on boosting its long-term development through sustainable methods rather than using less sustainable methods that yield short-term financial gains.
When your business begins a corporate sustainability strategy, it should be committed to responsible usage of natural resources, investing in the planet’s long-term well-being, and ensuring that employees and everyone connected to your business get treated fairly, too.
Corporate sustainability is similar to the idea of general sustainable development. This development manages to meet the needs of the world today but without crippling the natural resources that future generations will need.
What is general sustainability?
As an integral component of corporate sustainability, we’ll discuss sustainability extensively in this article. So, let’s go ahead and define what sustainability means.
There are three main types of sustainability:
As the name suggests, environmental sustainability is geared towards conserving the earth’s resources. Environmental sustainability aims to find renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, prevent global warming, and defend animal habitats. Another big topic in environmental sustainability is energy – with the process of acquiring and using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas so detrimental to the environment, what should we use for sustainable alternatives?
The economy is hardly the first thing you think of when considering sustainability. However, the economy is actually a massively important factor in sustainability. After all, think of the economy’s massive effect on the world.
A sustainable economy still allows you to favour economic growth, but not at the expense of environmental, social and cultural factors. Economic sustainability finds a balance between responsibility and growth.
One of the biggest problems in the global economy at the moment is the huge imbalance of wealth. This gap not only creates poverty but also leads to a host of other societal and environmental issues.
Rather than considering the environment a separate entity from us, ecologists see humanity as another piece of the planet. That means it’s essential for us to have conversations about the role society plays in sustainability. When we discuss society’s role in sustainability, we must not leave anyone behind in the fight for more sustainable living. Items or products must not result in negative social issues like poor working conditions, unfair wages, or polluted water sources.
What about corporate social responsibility?
Yes, it’s easy to confuse corporate social responsibility with corporate sustainability. However, the two terms do mean different things. Corporate sustainability refers to a strategy or plans you will use to meet your business objectives while respecting the environment, whereas corporate social responsibility has a broader meaning.
Corporate social responsibility is more when a business makes an effort to ensure all its activities leave a positive impact. Corporate social responsibility often centres on what a company has already accomplished in its sustainability efforts, while corporate sustainability focuses on goals for the future.
What is the importance of corporate sustainability?
Nowadays, many of us are reinventing our careers. But why go to the trouble of reinventing your whole business? It may seem challenging to see the payout of corporate sustainability, but corporate sustainability can truly make a significant impact if done well. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of corporate sustainability:
Benefits for business
The most necessary part of any business is the customers. In general, people want what’s best for the environment. So, whether your business is sustainable can affect many customers’ decisions to use you. If most customers don’t agree, you could miss out on loads of business.
But when you commit to an environmentally friendly business strategy, your customers will know that your business cares about the future of the planet and them. This approach will boost public trust in your enterprise. In addition, there is a definite high demand for sustainable products and services. So, a corporate sustainability plan can be a fantastic match for your business and the planet – a win-win situation.
These days, a sustainable business looks more and more appealing to investors. When you incorporate sustainable elements into your business strategy, you’ll be able to attract loads more investors to your business ventures.
One such method of investing is impact investing. As the name suggests, impact investments are made with their impact on the environment and their potential for financial gain in mind.
It just makes sense for any business to try and leave a fair social and environmental impact, which makes sense for investors. With 90% of executives believing that sustainability is important but only 60% of organisations implementing a sustainability strategy, it can really pay to get in on this lucrative demographic ahead of the curve. Attract those investors with a sustainability plan!
Benefits for the environment
As you probably well know, pollution occurs when poisonous and harmful substances are introduced into the environment. There are different forms of pollution, including water, air, and land pollution.
Once a natural environment becomes polluted, harmful effects with long-lasting consequences can ensue. For example, land pollution can hurt wildlife by leading to animals eating toxic materials. Or air pollution can make it difficult to breathe and lead to illness for both ourselves and other species.
Preventing climate change
Global warming is a big talking point at the moment, and for a good reason. This long-term shift in typical weather conditions and the average temperature over an extended period of time is a definite result of human behaviours. It has already led to increasing major weather events.
The higher temperatures have led to a loss of arctic ice, and this, in turn, has led to rising sea levels. This effect creates massive problems for wildlife, like habitat loss. The greenhouse gases we create are the main culprit for these rising temperatures.
The term biodiversity refers to the variety of all living things on planet Earth. This diversity ranges from animals to tiny microorganisms and the environment in which they all live. Every single being that exists in our biodiverse ecosystem has a significant role to play, even if we don’t understand it yet. For example, even minute microorganisms are imperative for the planet’s health. Unfortunately, many of the things humans do are putting our planet’s biodiversity at risk of being lost. Plastic pollution and deforestation are just two of the things that threaten species.
What are some businesses with good corporate sustainability?
There are many companies out there that have made significant changes to help the environment. Some companies even have sustainability-centred brands. So, let’s take a look at some of these sustainable brands:
Microsoft is known for providing a wide variety of software and computers. However, equally vast is their work towards sustainability. For example, Microsoft funded 20 different water replenishment projects in 2020 and diverted over 60,000 metric tons of waste from landfills!
The sustainability goals Microsoft are working toward include producing zero waste by 2030, being completely carbon-negative, and creating the revolutionary planetary computer. This platform will use artificial intelligence in combination with global environmental data to produce information that will lead to insights for sustainability.
Yes, this ubiquitous rainbow plastic block giant, the chagrin of feet everywhere, is quite a sustainable brand! Despite the Lego product being made of plastic – the environment’s arch-enemy! – the Lego brand has made a great effort to increase its sustainability in recent years.
Not only does Lego attempt to nullify their energy usage by donating to offshore wind farms, but they have also developed plans to boost the energy efficiency of Lego production and make their bricks sustainable.
Lego’s sustainability goals aim to zero landfill waste by 2025 and to manufacture all its core products from sustainable materials by 2030. On top of this, the brand also has a “replay” scheme. This scheme is where they can donate their used bricks to needy children rather than disposing of them as waste or recycling.
How do you make a corporate sustainability plan?
Now that you’re aware of corporate sustainability’s importance and advantages let’s take a look at how to make your business more sustainable. How do you put together a corporate sustainability plan?
As we touched upon above, there are three different aspects to sustainability. These things must be considered when forming your business sustainability plan. Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate these three things into your sustainability plan:
Environmental problems are such a huge issue. If anything is wrong with the environment, this affects everyone in the world. That’s why environmental sustainability is first on our list.
Some methods of preventing environmental issues are straightforward – reducing your packaging waste, water usage, and overall carbon footprint are a few good ways to begin.
However, these changes must be widespread. You should put these environmentally friendly changes into place throughout your business, right down to your supply chain. Setting goals like “carbon neutral by 2025” or “100% waste-free by 2030” will show your customers that you are serious about helping the environment.
As we mentioned, economic sustainability is about creating economic growth without leading to damaging social, cultural or environmental problems. While always keeping transparency with the public, you could try to stop or reduce your usage of things like fossil fuels or electricity in general.
You could also try switching your business to renewable energy. You can do this as slowly as you need to for economic sense. Or you might reduce fuel usage by moving all your meetings to Zoom – you might as well get your use out of the subscription! Whatever makes sense for your business. Do some research and decide what matters to you.
When you know what is important for your business, set a list of goals for each sustainability section.
Social sustainability pertains to the impact your company has on the people involved in it. This means the employees who work there, all your customers, and the local community. You should consider diversity, equal opportunities, ethical labour and human rights.
One good social sustainability goal is ensuring everyone in your supply chain has a fair living wage. Another thing you can do is try to meet a certain percentage of gender distribution in your employee numbers.
It’s imperative to protect our planet if we want it to last for the future. So, with how we’ve seen how much business activities affect the planet during the lockdowns and after, it’s clear that a sound corporate sustainability strategy is vital for protecting the planet’s future. Not only that, but corporate sustainability makes good business sense too. Plus, it just makes you feel good to know that you are doing the right thing. So, what are you going to do to help the Earth? How are you going to create a sustainable business? We hope that you now have a better idea of how to help the planet and some good ideas for sustainable business practices.