How to Build A Sustainable Business
Before we get into how to build a sustainable business, it is worth answering a somewhat obvious question: why does your business need to be environmentally friendly and sustainable? Here are some vital statistics in today’s socially responsible-orientated world:
And the most important point of all: an ethical and environmentally friendly way of doing business is simply the best long-term strategy for any company. According to a study by the Havas Group, companies seen as making the world a better place outperform the stock market by 134%.
A Sustainable Business: The Main Questions
How does one make their business environmentally friendly and sustainable? To start with, a business should take a very systematic approach to understanding its impact on every aspect of life it touches while operating and making its products. One should note that sustainability is not only about the environmental impact (although this plays a big role), but also the overall impact of the business on every aspect of life. We have put together a list of things to consider when look at becoming sustainable – however, it is not exclusive and it varies quite a lot depending on the type and size of your business.
Start by breaking down your business into units and analysing each of them separately.
- Every company creates something – a product. This product needs to be made or built, either internally or through your supply chain: producers, transport, resellers, etc. Physical products require raw materials: water, minerals, metals, chemicals, etc. You need to gather good information if those are sourced sustainably, according to global ethical standards (e.g. no child labour, etc.). Are the resources you use abundant or scarce? If the resources you are using are not easily renewable in nature, maybe you should consider using recycled materials. Making your product also might have by-product: CO2 or other emissions.
- If the company offers a service, then your internal team, community, and clients need to become pivotal in the evaluation of your sustainability. What is your impact on the behaviour of your consumer? Do they pollute more because of your product? Does your service help your client, or does it feed unsustainable and antisocial behaviour that has a greater impact on their lives far beyond your service? If you have a large team, they also require a lot of resources to do their work: transport to and from the office, office space, printing paper, computers, electricity, etc. Do you have a policy that considers the environmental impact of all of those?
- Every company sells products. For this, you need your sales team, marketing, managers, clients. Look internally and consider how your team is built, its culture, its ethics. Some questions you might want to ask for example are: Do we have enough diversity in the team? Does everyone feel included? Does leadership share the same values as the team? Is the work environment too stressful? Are we ethical when communicating internally and externally? Do we work with agents in countries where they pay their employees amounts below the minimum living wage? Once your product is used; is there a by-product, packaging? Is your product easily repairable? Is the cost of repair reasonable (not juts forcing the client to buy another product)? Is it recyclable (in the countries and cities you sell)?
While it may seem like this article has asked more questions than it answered, we hope you use those questions to determine the real impact your business can have on the world. And perhaps, make the necessary changes to make that world better. If you haven’t yet built a CSR strategy, the time is now to look for advisory on that topic.
If you already have a live CSR strategy, then you may want to measure your environmental impact and your sustainability. The time to act is now.
(KindLink is the technology platform supporting corporates in managing their CSR, offering features ranging from CSR strategy development and impact reporting to measuring SDGs, employee engagement and volunteering opportunities marketplace)