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Over the past few months, through various articles and outreach, I’ve been counselling our clients and wider business community on the value of keeping sustainability front and center in their plans for 2016. As global corporations increasingly align sustainability goals with financial goals – with sustainability initiatives often falling under the authority of CFOs – they are also looking to their suppliers to raise their sustainability game in a measurable way. This means the onus is on all of us to increase our competitive advantage by doing so.
According to new research from the Ethical Corporation, sustainability as a source of competitive advantage is seen as one of the most exciting opportunities (or, in other words, biggest motivators) over the next five years. Released this week, the briefing – which examined the top sustainability trends in the US – provided plenty of further proof that sustainability is now a business imperative. It’s free to download the sustainability survey, but here a few of the key highlights that I believe every business should keep in mind. (Of special note, 47% of the 383 respondents work for B2B companies.)
A massive 79% of respondents stated their CEO is convinced of the value of sustainability – which is obviously key to providing a strategic, long-term approach as opposed to individuals working in silos.
I’ve written many times before about empowering each individual employee to become part of the company’s sustainability efforts (and having just gone through another round of ISO certification, I can attest to the value of that approach). 57% of respondents saw training, spreading knowledge and answering employee questions about sustainability as the most important part of the sustainability team’s responsibility
With 68% of respondents saying sustainability drives savings for their business and 62% agreeing that it drives revenue, the financial case for sustainability is soundly made. However, there is still progress to be made in accurately measuring the impact of sustainability – something which is sure to change as over half of companies questioned said sustainability is very important in engaging stakeholder groups
My prediction is that over the coming years, sustainability will become so ingrained in our business practices that we will no longer talk about it in this distinct way. But until that happens, let’s continue to unlock the potential of sustainability for all of us through transparency, measurement and innovation.
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