February 10, 2020
Sustainability at the Forefront
By: Randal Newton, Vice President, Engineering
Sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a core component of the business strategy for several companies. In a world of shrinking resources and fast-growing population that is facing serious effects of climate change and global warming, sustainable business practices are a decisive element in a company’s continuing growth. Sustainability goes beyond philanthropy and takes a long-term view of environmental, social and governance issues, while conceiving strategies that best serve the organization’s interests.
A well-constructed sustainability strategy can yield into increased profitability and better results. It has been proven that companies that have adopted sustainable practices are way ahead of those who are still sitting on the proverbial fence and are undecided.
Threading sustainable thinking into business processes and work culture is the surest way to success, but you should realistically expect to encounter hurdles along the way.
The change initiative should permeate across the organization. Sustainability as a concept is continually evolving, but it would be less overwhelming if your company’s sustainability goals are set at the very top, at the C-level, and cascaded throughout the organization with appropriate metrics to drive accountability. Having employee buy-in is essential for sustainability practices to succeed. Engaging them in your sustainability goals will incentivize them to step up to their responsibilities. In fact, employees are a key stakeholder group for your sustainability programs. As they say, ‘Small actions make a big difference’.
As sustainability strategies are developed and managed, it is essential to have processes in place to measure success. Like any other business plan, measurement is paramount to being able to determine progress and areas of improvement that will ultimately make the company more sustainable over time. This also requires businesses to commit themselves to their goals and keep a check of the results. This aim for longevity will increasingly depend on the amount companies invest in NextGen technologies aligned with their sustainability goals. It is apparent that creating sustainable products and services will be the key differentiator between success and failure in the years ahead.
What distinguishes a company committed to sustainability from the rest of the herd is its fidelity to business ethics, human rights and commitment to high employee and organizational behavior. It is when the company’s long-term goals and policies align with its sustainability agenda.
Available research indicates that companies with sustainable business practices perform better, have healthier organizational behavior and accountability, and offer greater shareholder return. Building a sustainable business plan, implementing it and seeing real, measurable results take time. As you encounter challenges, keep in mind the effort is worth it.
Leading organizations are doing just that, and presumably, many more will join in to manage risks and invest in opportunities through 2030 so progress can be made. Outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a defined set of global goals that if achieved, will transform our world into a more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable place.
The way forward is by integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into corporate strategies. Put simply, the SDGs signal the need for a deep change in the way our economies work, and in the way, our energy, mobility, urbanization, food and social systems contribute to planetary and societal well-being. Business has a clear role to play in stepping up and taking the lead in achieving the SDGs and building a better future. Those who understand and adapt sustainability into their businesses will be better placed, and able to look beyond the near future.