Why You Should Add Sustainability to Your Business Strategy

opinions expressed by Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.

Terms like “sustainability”, “ESG” and “socially conscious” have become corporate buzzwords. However, if you just want to tick the box, think again.

A sincere commitment to sustainability can pay off in myriad ways – in addition to maintaining trust, a lack of integrity when it comes to sustainability threatens your relationship with both employees and customers.

Here’s what I’ve learned from embedding this value deep into our business strategy.

Related: What Can You Learn from the Rise of Sustainability-Driven Entrepreneurship?

Doing the right thing is good for business

Awareness of sustainable practices and products has increased dramatically over the past few decades. Whether it’s changing generational expectations, the climate crisis or other motivators, consumers value brands that prioritize sustainability. A quick look at the numbers: Given a choice, 32% of millennials will choose a sustainable option over an unsustainable option, and 47% of companies said sustainability had an impact on hiring and retention. And investors get it: 90% of investors said they care about how sustainable a business is.

How to apply:

  • Start somewhere. Whether it’s offering recycling and reusable water bottles in the office or setting up official DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) or ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) committees, all efforts, small and large, make a difference. The intent of the contribution is the most important thing. Don’t be intimidated by the task at hand and focus on what is manageable and meaningful to you.
  • Keep it up. Sustainability is not a one-time undertaking – it is a muscle that needs constant exercise to establish itself as part of your strategy and operations. Like any other initiative, it should have goals and be analyzed at regular intervals to find places to improve and improve your progress.
  • think bigger. When this muscle is strong, challenge it in creative ways to advance your values. For example, we plant a tree for each new customer. An easy way to do our part while addressing what life really is: caring about a future that transcends you.

Related: How Can You Transform Sustainability into a Brand and a Workforce?

Sustainability is a business mindset

The concept of sustainability goes far beyond the field of ESG. It’s a growth method and a mindset that can change the way a company strategizes and performs.

The temptation to think short-term – how to reach this month’s goal, how to put out fires with temporary band-aids – is all too much in startup culture. Adopting a sustainable mindset means assessing the long-term impact of short-term decision making and investing in future growth with no expectation of short-term returns. Ultimately, the two mingle: yesterday’s investments become today’s harvests as you continue to plan for tomorrow.

How to apply:

  • Prove your foundation first. Insurance is a risk game. If you grow up before you get the contractor right, you put yourself out of business. We have spent years building, proving and improving our risk models to provide a strong foundation for growth.
  • Maintain healthy unit economy. It’s no secret that in this market, most growth companies have adopted a focus on the unit economy. But in Silicon Valley, the pendulum tends to oscillate between focusing on strong fundamentals and pushing growth at all costs. Adopting a sustainable mindset helps you stay centered and disciplined as you try to build a truly disruptive and enduring business.
  • Re-evaluate and improve your organization every +50 employees. Growth is important, but scaling appropriately keeps the mission on track and people invest. It is important to re-evaluate the way your organization works approximately every +50 employees to ensure processes and teams are structured to maximize effective collaboration and decision making.

Related: Are Your Company’s Sustainability Efforts Failed? Here are the things that hinder your success.

Sustainability belongs to your mission statement

Everything comes from a company’s mission. Therefore, if you make sustainability part of your mission, you automatically embed its virtues in your DNA.

So my advice is to take a sincere look at your mission and understand how sustainability fits naturally. I would go further and say that anyone who runs a company in this century has a responsibility to do so. Climate change is not a future problem; here right now. According to NASA, the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, intense heat waves and catastrophic weather events are becoming more and more common.

If your industry’s link to sustainability sounds more indirect, ask yourself how you can connect it to your company values ​​and product offerings in a truly authentic way. Successful examples range from outdoor gear with Patagonia’s 1% stake for the Planet promise and the CEO’s recent decision to turn the company over to combat climate change, to cosmetics like Thrive Causemetics’ commitment to cruelty-free materials.

Ultimately, this is the exercise of defining and living your values ​​– and doing good along the way.

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