The benefits and importance of leading a sustainable life are vastly understood by individuals all over the world. However, beyond individuals actively embracing sustainable and green practices, to address the global climate emergency, companies have to explore more sustainable ways of doing business too. By analysing the impact that their business has on the environment, society, and the economy, it becomes easier to develop business strategies that are vital to long-term success – both for the Earth and the enterprise.
Back in the day, businesses could pose as ‘good corporate citizens’ merely by focusing on reducing their energy consumption and plastering a green label to their brand name. But these are only add-ons that make a company ‘look green’ and have never been considered integral aspects of a business strategy. This hesitation to fully embrace sustainability can be linked back to the misconception that this move equates to sacrificing profits and putting business growth on the back burner. But that could not be further from the truth. With more companies embracing sustainability and considering it as a key component of their business model, being proactive about sustainability in this day and age is a determining factor between a business succeeding or failing.
Embracing sustainable practices in business is not just a trend. Helping organisations in any and every industry, implementing and cultivating these green practices can boost efficiency, competitiveness and eventual profitability. Businesspersons in a unique position of power to effect change must thus see the importance of prioritising sustainability. From business owners and organisational leaders to managers and human resource professionals, everyone must take steps to improve sustainability in their business.
Some of the key advantages of taking up sustainability in business include:
Due to changing perspectives around the world, the gap between businesses that fully embrace sustainable practices and those that simply boast about their knowledge and awareness is becoming more apparent. This means that consumers can clearly distinguish climate action from greenwashing. As such, the successful implementation of a sustainability strategy can positively influence a company’s reputation and brand image. Demonstrating how mindful your business is of the impact it has on the environment and society will thus be sufficient in building customer loyalty.
As more consumers consider a company’s environmental footprint before making a purchase, implementing environmentally conscious improvements is one of the best ways to give businesses a competitive advantage over competitors. Add to that the fact that the majority of business leaders and leading brands acknowledge the importance of sustainability, embedding sustainability into a business model can have a lasting impact.
Sustainability is more than just “a good thing to do.” Through the development of more sustainable business practices, it is only natural that resources are conserved, and operations become more streamlined. As a result of this, business expenditure will decrease, allowing more to be invested back into the company. Moreover, as employees work together towards the similar goal of implementing green and sustainable initiatives, there will be a sense of pride in the company, and a strong culture of teamwork will be fostered.
With the pandemic and a global economic crisis, businesses might face several hurdles while making attempts to become sustainable. With large corporations already taking years to make small sustainable changes, smaller businesses may face significant challenges due to their limited resources, budget and time. In addition, if companies do not place sustainability at the heart of their business strategy, it can be difficult to get everyone in an organisation to support the cause. Not having a clear plan can also overwhelm the business since opportunities and risks were not properly identified.
The best way to navigate the above-mentioned issues is to have a concrete action plan that will have measurable results. Rather than going all out from the get-go, companies can take small steps to make the change. For example, focusing on a cost-cutting strategy with initiatives targeting energy efficiency and recycling will be a good first step. From there, companies can move on to more expensive changes such as going digital and offering remote work options. These can all be done while creating a profitable strategy that will turn all investments and sustainability campaigns into monetary gains.
Relaying her own take on the challenges business might face, Liwa Supriyanti explains, “There may be many challenges obstructing a company from becoming sustainable. However, taking the first step is crucial. At Gunung Prisma, for example, we looked inwards. While organisation-wide action plans were indeed implemented, we focused on our own employees, making sure that everyone’s ideas and issues were recognised and considered.”
The message is clear – global corporations must align their business strategy to sustainability goals to maintain customer loyalty and reap monetary rewards. By helping create long-term value simply by considering how an organisation operates and impacts ecological, social, and economic environments, businesses will be able to increase efficiency and create new opportunities.
With a primary goal to create an impact for a better world in a responsible manner, Gunung Prisma has led many green initiatives. Adding to this, Liwa states “With a corporate strategy that focuses on sustainability, we are committed to providing green solutions for our immediate communities. This is something I believe every organisation should do as well.”