In recent years sustainability has been covered in the business press as an issue that should merit serious business consideration. However, in spite of its extensive media support many business leaders continue to dismiss sustainability as too expensive and under interpret it’s meaning as ‘going green’.
The more I read about sustainability the more apparent it becomes to me what an opportunity this could be for smart businesses if leveraged strategically. Wirtenberg, Harmon and Fairfield (2010) describe sustainability as a company’s ability to achieve its goals and increase long-term shareholder value by integrating economic, environmental and social opportunities into its business strategies to ensure the continued success and strength of the organization for future generations.
Sustainability is much more than going green. In actuality many businesses are already inadvertently adhering to sustainable approaches through their community involvement, recycling and flexible work practices. What a sustainability initiative does is to tie together all these disparate activities into a strategic objective.
Here are five reasons why organizations should consider sustainability initiatives:
1. Enhance brand image
Organizations that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability can leverage this strategic objective to enhance their image with their customers, suppliers, employees, the media and other stakeholders. Sustainability can also be incorporated into marketing efforts as Patagonia has demonstrated through their commitment to sustainability throughout their supply chain.
2. Improve talent acquisition
Many people, particularly my generation (y) aspire to work for organizations that are socially responsible and that they can be proud to represent. A SHRM report demonstrated that a sustainable corporate image could help organizations to attract the best applicants and greater engage current employees.
3. Maintain a competitive edge
Depending upon your organization’s competitive environment sustainability can help prevent losing sustainable focused customers to competitors and or differentiate your organization from the competition. In industries where sustainability initiatives have barely been embraced, opportunities exist for organizations to achieve short-term competitive advantage from being the first mover.
4. Stay ahead of regulations
It is expected that the future will bring increased regulations in regards to sustainability. By getting started now your business can move up the learning curve, becoming better prepared for future legislative changes.
5. Save money
In addition to potential energy cost savings, sustainability initiatives can enable organizations to become eligible for government financial incentives, including subsidies, tax credits, tax exemptions and low-interest loan programs. The federally funded extensive DSIRE database details federal, state and local government incentive programs for organizations of all sizes pursuing sustainable initiatives.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.