Why should you embrace Sustainability – Part 1 of 2

by Harsha Yadav

It’s been close to 3 years since I’ve been trying my bit to practice being resource efficient and persuade organisations to become more Sustainable. And boy, how times have changed. From being talk-talk-talk to talk-implement-talk, large companies worldwide have certainly made the leap. The same cannot be said about Indian companies though. In India, there have been a lot of conversations happening on this subject, but the examples of real action are far and few.

For a long time, “Sustainability” focused initiatives had been looked upon as costs and not investments and therefore had been consistently moved down the hierarchy of priorities, even for organizations known to be Champions of Sustainability. And when the Sustainability agenda was embraced, the reasons given was about reduction of costs, meeting customer expectations (branding) and engaging employees. In-fact, here’s what my slide on ‘Why should you become Sustainable?’ looked like – 2 years. (I agree, the design is a bit hideous, but we keep learning :) ).

Why Sustainability

Focusing on the content, the reasons said:

  1. Compliance – with laws of the land and when you have to benchmark with your competitors who are already on that path.
  2. Cost Savings & Increased Asset Value – You can save costs when you know where your impacts are and start becoming more efficient. And through that, you build leaner and efficient assets.
  3. Investors – In addition to showing market returns, investors also expect you to be responsible and behave ethically.
  4. Market Differentiation – All things remain equal, employees are more likely to work for organisations that have a purpose beyond just making money. The same applies to customers who will buy from companies who are seen as do-gooders. In some cases, when things are not equal too, customers and employees support more sustainable companies.
  5. New Markets – Companies that have embraced Sustainability, like Siemens, IBM or GE make a large % of their revenues through these new markets now. Sustainability has opened huge new markets for these giants in traditional industries.

While all the reasons given above are spot-on and relevant, Sustainability agenda has moved on to more concrete objectives.

Sustainability for organisations has become:

Less about Cost Cutting and more about Building Enduring Value

Less about Compliance and more about Resilience

Less about Marketing and more about Protecting Reputation

In short, Sustainability is not just about being responsible for the environment; it is about creating long-term shareholder value by creating balance between the present and the future.

It is also about ethical conduct of business, respect for human rights, employee well being, caring for all stakeholders, equitable development and being responsible to customers. Sounds less like the traditional definition of “Sustainability” and more like good and must-do business practices, does it? But then, isn’t that what makes businesses sustainable?

I am not just throwing jargon at you or sermonising on what an ideal business should behave like. Sustainability is being practised in organisations the world over as we speak, and this is going to be the most crucial aspect of the business. Soon, Sustainable thinking will be taken for granted in companies, just like Quality thinking is being taken for granted today. For instance, look at the top 100 brands in the world and more than 60% of them also rank as green brands. No coincidence right? Brands which are successful are also becoming the greenest brands in the world.

Now, that’s some long term thinking that has fallen into place for these successful brands!

In the next post, I will elaborate about these reasons. I will also give some specific cases where some organisations are doing great in terms of Sustainability and where some organisations are going wrong. 

With inputs from my good friend Abhishek Dabas.

Updated: The second part of this series can be seen here: http://efficientcarbon.com/blog/why-should-you-embrace-sustainability-part-2-of-2


One thought on “Why should you embrace Sustainability – Part 1 of 2

  1. Pingback: Why should you embrace Sustainability - Reasons | EfficientCarbon

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