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VIEWPOINT: Does Your Company Care About The Environment As Much As Consumers Do?

By David Radlo

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It’s not just a product’s quality that compels consumers to purchase it. More people today care about how the item was manufactured and whether the company is harming the environment.

Studies show sustainability is a factor driving customers’ buying decisions. Recent research by IBM revealed that nearly six in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact, and nearly eight in 10 indicated sustainability is important to them. 

That’s why companies can’t afford to pay only lip service to sustainability issues.

Organizations are under increasing pressure from customers, investors, employees, banks, legislators, and insurance companies to embrace social and environmental concerns.  Studies increasingly show that the business benefits of sustainable strategies can be quantified and are real. There is a significant amount of money to be made and saved in the area of sustainability. It can give you a competitive advantage and improve your brand image, and it can also spur innovation. 

Here are four ways in which companies can prioritize and improve sustainability while turning it into a win-win for the environment and their business:

• Assess your company’s sustainability level. Most businesses don’t know where to start. You start with a complete assessment. As it is conducted, link your sustainability efforts to the strategic plan and how it will impact your stakeholders. Determine your current status and what improvements you’d like to make. 

• Identify ways to reduce waste and emissions. Waste and pollution are indicators of inefficiencies, which tend to generate unneeded costs and environmental problems. The goal is to achieve breakthroughs that would lead to manufacturing without any form of waste and no carbon-equivalent emissions. Waste elimination is achieved at the source through product design, producer responsibility, and waste-reduction strategies down the supply chain. Some concepts to eliminate waste include cleaner production, product dismantling, recycling, reuse, and composting. 

• Create an implementation plan and operationalize. Develop your people for this important transition. Along the way, improve your processes and focus on the outcomes you wish to achieve. What measurement can you put into place concerning your customers, employees, stakeholders, and shareholder loyalty?

• Permeate the work culture, in addition to financial sustainability, with a go-green mentality. The more that overall sustainability is ingrained and practiced in your culture, the stronger the company’s commitment is, and the message spreads organically and authentically. When your organization becomes a steward of the environment, and you fully integrate sustainability into your culture, the company now has a long-term vision and the processes in place to continue it.  

Sustainability works for the greater good of any organization, and it creates progress toward environmental and social improvement.                      

David Radlo (www.davidradlo.com) is author of “Principles of Cartel Disruption: Accelerate and Maximize Performance,” a partner with RB Markets-Achievemost, a professional outside director, a growth coach, and an international Fortune 500 speaker. Radlo is experienced in the U.S. and globally, building sustainable consumer-food brands such as Born Free, Farmer’s Best, and Egg-Land’s Best.

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