The paradigm of sustainable practices and development first appeared in the 1980s before becoming popular. Around the 1990s, businesses began shifting their focus from production to efficiency. Subsequently, a new role was created: Director of Sustainability. While most organizations have their own sustainability manager or team, it is becoming increasingly necessary for leaders to blend sustainability into their own practices. In a recent LinkedIn Live with Enrique Acosta Gonzalez, we discussed why sustainable leaders can attract employees and investors, increase productivity and reduce costs, and improve brand image.
Why sustainability matters for business operations
Many business leaders have been finding that it is now a business imperative to make the switch to sustainability. There is increased demand from stakeholders, customers, and employees to integrate environmentally friendly methods into business practices. Sustainability also allows businesses to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives.
Most companies have similar sustainable goals: Waste Reduction, Zero Waste to Landfill, Reduce Carbon Footprint, and Zero Emissions. These goals target economic and social pillars of sustainability with a focus on waste reduction because organic waste in particular directly contributes to global warming.
Traditional methods of waste management entail hauling the waste to landfills. As organic waste decomposes in landfills, it produces a greenhouse gas — methane – which is 87 times worse than carbon dioxide. Waste handling and transportation costs can add up, especially in organizations with cafeterias. Removing the middleman and taking care of organic waste on site allows organizations to meet their zero waste goals. Additionally, these practices allow businesses to comply with environmental laws which currently impact eight states. Businesses risk fines from government agencies which quickly add up when combined with waste management fees.
How sustainability creates stronger leadership
Shifting your company’s practices and goals to sustainability may also have a surprising impact on your employees. About two-thirds of the labor force are either millennials or generation X. As Iain and Enrique pointed out, younger employees are much more vocal and care more for the environment because this is the future they will have to live in. Nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of company sustainability and three-quarters of them would be willing to take a paycut for a company that is more environmentally friendly.
Employees care about the environment and the world they live in. Implementing environmental practices shows your employees that you not only care about your business, but the world and the future you’re leaving behind. This switch can also help you attract top talent who are interested in your company’s values.
Many leaders avoid sustainable practices and approaches because there is a belief that green practices raise operational costs. Do sustainable practices cost more?
Yes and no.
The cost of implementing new practices will cost more than original standards and methods. Education, implementation, and execution are the biggest factors in deciding the increased costs. However, sustainable practices start to reap benefits and return on investment quickly. As environmentally practices become routine, it becomes easier to scale and expand on programs. This is critical in developing a cost-effective and sustainable global supply chain. Ultimately, the switch to sustainability not only pays for itself, but pays for a greener future.
There is a new rise in demand for sustainable practices and foods. Thanks to social media and awareness campaigns, consumers are now very aware and educated about the issues of the environment. 68% of empowered consumers seek out environmentally sustainable business practices, goods, and services. Customers are willing to pay more and support brands that align with an environmentally friendly mission.
Effective leadership involves understanding your people, operations, and customers. Sustainability helps tie these together under one mission: saving the planet. Contact Power Knot to learn more about how you can apply sustainable practices to your business today.