The business world moves at one hundred miles per hour, and if you’re not aware of the latest developments and practices you’ll find yourself struggling to grow and, maybe, even finding survival a challenge. Presenting a positive brand image that resonates with the values of your target market involves managing the way your business presents itself, and its reputation is more important than ever as younger consumers vote their values by spending money with brands that emulate those values. Sometimes, they even spend more to achieve value-based buying. Sustainability matters to a growing number of consumers and brands that don’t embrace this practice or who only pay lip service to sustainable business practices, find it increasingly challenging to sustain their market share and may even find themselves fighting for survival. You don’t want that, especially if you want your business to survive and grow for years to come!
Sustainability is more important for businesses across all industries in the industrialized world every year and is an important business strategy for businesses regardless of their home country. As you can see in the graphic above, sustainability comes at the intersection of social, economic, and environmental concerns.
But why does sustainability matter to consumers? Environmental issues and other issues concerning the planet became more important to all consumers, especially young ones, who are increasingly aware of threats to their future reflected by the way businesses treat the planet. Among their most serious sustainability concerns are global warming and related issues such as threats to the survival of a multitude of animal and plant species from pollution and degradation of their habitats, deforestation, water pollution, and the depletion of natural resources [source]. In addition, consumers care about sustainable business practices related to social justice, equity, and poverty.
Since the industrial revolution, businesses tended to be the largest contributors to climate change, with large quantities of waste produced every year as well as the use of non-renewable and fossil fuels released into the earth’s atmosphere. According to NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association in the US), annual warming since 1980 averaged 0.32° F, a level of warming incompatible with continued existence on this planet. The year 2020 was the 2nd hottest year on record, despite the massive global pandemic that reduces manufacturing and transportation, two of the biggest contributors to global warming, according to the same source.
As the world warmed and suffered other man-made damage, consumers’ interest in the sustainability practices of the products they buy similarly increased. Implementing more sustainable business practices not only benefits the planet but also gives you a leg up on your competitors by boosting your reputation and the trust consumers have in your business.
Thus, many companies started to focus on not only the generation of profits but also on improving the societal and environmental conditions that affect the planet; recognizing that sustainability matters to consumers. The areas in which businesses focus their sustainability efforts are Energy, Waste, Workplace, Transport, and Purchasing.
If brands didn’t recognize the impact of social justice on their brand image, 2020 certainly brought that into focus. Global protests against police killings and other racially motivated crimes against Asians, Indigenous, and Blacks dominated the summer. Brands quickly discovered they must fall in step with shifting cultural values or find themselves facing a backlash. Even Chik-fil-A was forced to stop supporting certain far-right Christian groups over their attitudes toward LGBTQ and other marginalized groups.
Corporate social responsibility
CSR goes beyond simply caring about the environment, although that’s a big part of CSR. Socially responsible corporations also care about workplace conditions and equity across genders and races so that everyone has an opportunity for advancement and works in a safe environment. Raising the minimum wages offered to employees also became a cause over the last few years, charging companies to pay a living wage to even the lowest wage workers.
Ensuring sustainability matters in your business
You might also experience a hidden benefit from implementing more sustainable strategies. Furthermore, you may actually find it makes your business more efficient in a number of ways. For example, lower energy costs mean greater profit margins and higher ROI. Implementing procedures for reusable and sustainable products means that less money is spent on buying additional raw materials, which also translates to higher profit margins.
In the fight against environmental issues, for instance, you may experience lower costs by recycling and reusing rather than throwing things away. I once worked with a client who made stained glass. By saving broken and misshapen glass, they were able to remelt it to create new products at a lower cost.
Since climate change filtered from citizens to their governments, new taxes, such as Cap and Trade, are either in the works or were already passed by legislatures to force polluters to pay for clean-up costs and fines are higher and better enforced for those acting unethically.
In terms of social justice and workplace efforts aimed at creating a more inclusive and higher paid workforce, businesses find productivity gains and lower turnover more than offset additional costs.
Strategies to ensure sustainability matters
Oil waste is a huge contributor to global challenges, both locally and globally. Many businesses do not know what to do with their oil refuse and much of it ends up in our sewer systems. Companies such as GF Commodities help businesses find sustainable solutions to oil wastage by reusing it for other industries and disposing of them in environmentally friendly ways.
Think about adding solar collectors or other forms of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels. Over time, this transition reduces your energy costs significantly while protecting the environment from the damage done by carbon in the environment.
Social justice and CSR
Building a unit of the business dedicated to creating a diverse workforce not only helps your brand image but also brings new perspectives that generate ideas that support your brand. Investing and supporting businesses with a spotless record on social justice also requires constant supervision by folks trained in this area.
Making your business more sustainable, doesn’t only just benefit us, it benefits the consumers that use our goods and services, it benefits the clients that do business with us but most importantly benefits the planet, which benefits us all in the long run. Improve efficiency, improve your companies reputation and be more sustainable by implementing some of the strategies mentioned here. For more tips on how to grow your business check out our blogs here!
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