What is sustainability in business?

What is sustainability in business?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a new concept to businesses. However, long gone are the days when having a website page dedicated to CSR is enough. Businesses need to stand by their words in the actions they take.

Sustainability has become a key player in CSR since the emergence of the 2008 Climate Change Act which sets out Britain’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 2050. And the UK’s adoption into the 2016 Paris agreement, together with 195 other parties, whose overall goal is to limit global warming to below 2 (preferably to 1.5) degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

So what does this mean for businesses? What does a sustainable business look like, and how do we as businesses show our commitment and align our overall goals to sustainability?

28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

Stakeholder Chain

In a survey conducted by HSBC on over 9,000 companies from across the world, including 1,000 UK based companies, in order to deliver their sustainability goals in the future, 31% of businesses have identified investment in technology, innovation, and infrastructure as their top priorities.

This means that technology has a pivotal role to play in sustainability – but the challenge is how do we communicate and action that?

Getting buy in from stakeholders and identifying who they are inside the business, as well as those within the supply chain is the key first step. Who needs educating on sustainability? Who will be responsible for launching, implementing and scaling the sustainability plan?

This is about creating a team with defined roles, and identifying and developing relationships with stakeholders.

Supply Chain Solutions Centre offer a wealth of information on sustainability in the supply chain and have created guides for all types of businesses covering everything from getting buy-in from the key players in your organisation, to strategic energy management and reducing carbon emissions within the supply chain.

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Accreditations & Reports

A survey carried out in March this year by Deloitte on 2,000 UK adults found that there were 5 key areas that consumers considered when making a purchase, all of which ranked fairly equally under sustainability and social responsibility.

  • Waste reduction 43%
  • Producing sustainable packaging and adopting circular practices 43%
  • Reducing carbon footprint 41%
  • Committing to ethical working practices 39%
  • The practice and respect of human rights 39%

 

These findings simply cannot be ignored by businesses. The same report found that 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

It’s clear that not only do businesses need to make changes to their processes to take into account sustainable practices, but that they need to make their sustainability promises clear to consumers.

Everyone in the business needs to be on board, especially the marketing team, to make sure that the messaging is getting across to consumers loud and clear.

Part of that sustainability strategy could include yearly sustainability reports and accreditations.

One such accreditation is the B Corp Kitemark It is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance.

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and commit to balancing profit with purpose. It’s by no means an easy feat to become B Corp accredited, but the significance to consumers and benefits to businesses are huge. B Corp have different requirements and levels of entry dependent upon the size and status of the business.

Driving Change

As businesses we have the potential to be a driving force of change within the sustainability arena. We have the power collectively to keep pushing forward and putting pressure on our supply chains and stakeholders to bring the sustainable changes this world so desperately needs. With experts saying that the heat experienced so far this year is just a glimpse of what is to come, the evidence is overwhelming.

Sustainability is no longer seen as a buzz word that businesses pay lip service to, and if your business isn’t committed, or isn’t starting to put sustainability up there with profits, then it’s going to get left behind.

Sustainability is one of The CIO Circles core themes. We recognise the ever changing and growing landscape. We understand that keeping up with that can be challenging. That’s why we created the CIO membership, to educate, inspire and collaborate with like-minded individuals in the tech industry.

The doors are always open – just click here for more info or click here for courses.

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