Business Benefits from Sustainability

“Sustainability-focused companies outperform their peers”, this is the conclusion of a study by the global strategic management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. The study found that companies committed to corporate sustainability practices achieved above average performance in the financial markets during the financial crisis 0f 2008. The performance differential translated to an average of $ 650 million in market capitalization per company.

Read:

  • Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point.  This third joint MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group study reveals that a substantial portion of companies are now seeing the need for sustainable business practices — and are deriving financial benefits from these activities.

Typical Argument:

Small, medium and large companies have found these benefits to sustainability:

  • Improved company or brand image
  • Cost savings
  • Competitive advantage
  • Improved employee satisfaction, morale or retention
  • Product, service or market innovation
  • Business model or process innovation
  • New sources of revenue
  • Effective risk management
  • Enhanced stakeholder relations

Tips on Talking about Business Benefits:

  1. Meet your team "where they are".  If they are focused on financial results, talk cost savings and market growth.  If they are worried about reputational risk - talk about risk management and stakeholder engagement.  Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility are holistic.  Present it in a way that "talks" to your audience.  Piggyback on existing initiatives.  The other pieces can come later.

  2. GuidelinestoTransparencyGet the right team engaged.  If you can't get senior management engaged, this isn't going to work.  Influence the influencers.  Find a champion that is connected to the right people.  Sometimes the key influencers might be competitors or senior management in another company.

  3. Understand stakeholder expectations.  Where are your customers, staff and suppliers on sustainability and corporate social responsibility?  This will help you make your case.

  4. Align the business case for sustainability with your overall strategy.  Show how it fits with your new product, innovation, quality and customer service strategy.

  5. Consider customizing the business case for different business units.  Manufacturing may be interested in the savings from eco-efficiencies but sales and marketing may be interested in how it meets customer needs.
  6. Tackle the "low hanging fruit" and demonstrate early wins.  Companies have typically found millions of dollars in savings in the first few years.  Some with a simple return on investment of only a few months.

  7. Choose meaningful measures and targets.  What gets measured gets done so choose metrics that are aligned with your company's KPIs and let you track the business benefits of your plan.

  8. Don't forget the 'how' when you talk about the 'why'. A business case and a plan ar e beautiful things but without implementation they are just squiggles on bits of paper. Make sure you know how you are going to implement the plan and line up support and resources to do so. This includes: people, their time, incentives, training and resources as well as the appropriate tools, IT and infrastructure.

  9. Include a communications strategy in your business plan.  Include elements that connect to the "thinking, feeling, willing, social self".  Make sure the program is authentically meaningful and aligns with the values of your employees.

References:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

10 Tips for Building the Business Case for Sustainability

The Sustainability Champion's Guidebook (by Bob Willard)

Learn about Training Courses for Developing the Business Plan for Sustainability or let us do a Lunch & Learn with your Green Team.

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