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How to integrate sustainability into your business

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If you’re not a fossil fuel or manufacturing company, you might be wondering why you should care about the sustainability of your service business. The truth is that although these companies depend on the extraction and use of raw materials, consumers and all other companies are responsible for the largest share of carbon emissions related to the consumption of products. Rising carbon emissions are driving global climate change. The severe weather and public health crisis it has created has in turn created more risk for all businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent winter storm that hit Texas, which unexpectedly disrupted everyone’s lives, are recent examples of disasters exacerbated by climate change.

Corporate sustainability is sustainability into your business rooted in this concept for business and focuses on three pillars: social, environmental and economic (or people, planet and profit). By focusing on these three components, corporate sustainability drives business efficiency, sustainable growth, and shareholder value.

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For example, a program focused on the three pillars can help reduce energy consumption in the office, facilitate recycling and composting of waste, purchase renewable electricity to power electrical installations and provide adequate benefits. and a safe and fair workplace for their employees, while ensuring the financial health of the company.

It is more important than ever for companies to invest in the long-term health of their business and their employees through sustainability strategies. These strategies are not only good for the planet, but also reward companies with greater resilience, recognition and added value for their products or services. They also allow companies to attract and retain the best talent. Corporate sustainability is an investment that is not yet standard, and which has both quantitative and qualitative short- and long-term repercussions.

For example, according to the Journal of Organizational Behavior , you can easily save 10% on your electricity costs by implementing energy efficiency solutions that cost you nothing in your office, or increase your employees’ performance by 16 % by adopting sustainable practices. Today, employee performance is at the forefront of leaders’ minds when making decisions about how best to engage their workforce in the new era of work in the post-pandemic world.

Here are some steps.

1. Build a team

Corporate sustainability is an interdisciplinary and complex effort that will affect all departments of the company because it attempts to prevent and mitigate environmental, social and governance issues in business. Build a team to do this work will allow it to be done in an organized and methodical manner.

The size and experience of your team depends on the size of your business. If you are a small business with a limited budget, your corporate sustainability team may consist of employees who are passionate about the subject. For larger companies, investing in a team of professionals to create the program will ensure that it is carefully curated to meet business needs. This would require involving all key stakeholders in decision-making to ensure the long-term success of the business.

2. Evaluate your business

Now that you have a team, determine the effect of your business locally and globally . To ensure that your sustainability program is focused on areas relevant to your business, perform a materiality assessment. The purpose of a materiality assessment is to assess the potential environmental, social and governance risks to which the business may be exposed.

To determine the main areas of impact of your business, start by talking to your internal and external stakeholders, such as your customers, employees, suppliers, trade associations and non-governmental organizations. Are the potential issues more related to social, environmental or governance issues, and what are the sub-categories of each effect area? This approach will help you build a clear picture of where you need to focus your efforts, where to go, and how to achieve them.

3. Set ambitious goals

The best corporate sustainability goals are those set by senior management. This sends a clear signal to your staff and customers that you care about operating responsibly. The goal should be researched and determined by the sustainability team using information gathered during the materiality assessment, but the final goal should be announced by the company executive.

At WeWork, for example, our CEO joined RE100 in 2018 and committed the company to using 100% renewable electricity by 2025. (RE100 is a group of 290 global companies that have committed to become 100% renewable).

We determined that this goal is important because we knew that our buildings use a lot of electricity. As our portfolio is global, this objective requires the support and resources of the management team with its global scope. It would not be possible to achieve it if only the sustainability team proposed it. Top-down support is critical to achieving all of the company’s goals, including those related to sustainability.

4. Describe your strategy

A strategy will give direction to your team when the interdisciplinary aspect of the work makes you feel that you should focus on other things. This strategy will also be important when you face difficulties.

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