In the Harvard Business Review article The Sustainability Imperative, authors David Lubin and Daniel Esty wrote, “Most executives know that how they respond to the challenge of sustainability will profoundly affect the competitiveness and perhaps the survival of their organizations. Yet most are flailing around, launching a hodgepodge of initiatives without any overreaching vision or plan. That’s not because they don’t see sustainability as a strategic issue. Rather, its because they think they’re facing an unprecedented journey for which there is no road map.”
We help you see how to create a road map for sustainability in your organization and how it does not have to be difficult. In fact, when all the critical areas of your organization are aligned with the right plan, it can be quite profitable and easy to implement. When your people and processes are aligned with an added commitment to the environment, great things can happen!
Sustainability is a megatrend—a fundamental shift in the competitive landscape that creates inescapable game changing opportunities and profoundly affects companies’ competitiveness and even their own survival. Megatrends require businesses to adapt and innovate or be swept aside. Why do we think sustainability qualifies as an emerging megatrend? Because, over the past ten years the following areas have been fueling the megatrend of sustainability.
- Steadily encroaching environment issues
- Capacity to create value for customers, shareholders, and stakeholders
- Globalized workforces
- Business liabilities due to supply chains
- Competition for natural resources
- Investor pressure
- Public and governmental concern
Sustainability as a megatrend is really not all that different than the quality megatrend of the 70’s and 80’s and the information technology revolution of the 90’s. The quality revolution was focused on quality output quickly, and the IT movement was about technology breakthroughs that fundamentally altered business capabilities and refined how companies do much of what they do. Both of these megatrends changed the face of business permanently.
Sustainability allows you to be profitable today and tomorrow (creating a sustainable company that is in business 10, 15, 25 years from now) without destroying the resources necessary for tomorrow’s prosperity. Creating stakeholder value without draining natural resources doesn’t just sound nice, it makes good economic sense. However, sustainability is an attitude and a culture, not a checklist. Sustainability is about creating enduring environmental and business value, today!
We do know one thing for sure, sustainability is not going away. “Sustainability is no longer optional. Companies that fail to adopt such practices will perish. They will not only lose cost basis, they will also suffer in recruiting employees as well as attracting customers.” – John Replogle, former President and CEO of Burt’s Bees.
The key success components to embracing and managing sustainability lie in the ability to create a business case for sustainability and a plan that fits the uniqueness of each organization. There is no overarching definition for sustainability that will apply to every organization and industry. In fact, it is our experience that there never can be one overarching definition. The business case for sustainability will and should mean different things to different companies.
Why create a business case for sustainability? Studies have shown the results are impactful:
- A stronger brand and greater pricing power
- Greater operational efficiencies
- More efficient use of resources
- Supply chain optimization
- Risk management (environmental)
- Enhanced ability to enter new markets
- Enhanced ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees
- Improved customer loyalty
- Inevitability of regulation and reporting
Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227