What can the World’s Most Ethical (WME) companies teach us about business success? On average, companies that go beyond simple ethical claims outperform their peers. This year’s WME honorees generated 30% greater returns than the S&P 500, demonstrating a strong correlation between responsible actions and business success.
2013 business planning is well underway. How is your business embracing sustainability? Are you aware of the growing sustainability trends and how they might impact your business?
Opportunities, both small and big, are plentiful in today’s business environment: growing consumer environmental awareness, innovative ways of doing things, a crisis, or a threatening trend. Mission-driven brands that recognize and adapt will gain share and influence. When faced with the realities of increased business risk, increased cost or loss of revenue, the business world inevitably responds. Such has been the case with addressing the critical issues of water, carbon, and energy management.
In 2012, many new business sustainability trends have emerged and other trends have grown in strength and momentum. What have they been and what trends can we expect in 2013?
- Sustainability reporting is growing – especially integrated reporting of financial and sustainability reports.
- The CFO’s role in sustainability is on the rise.
- Employees are a key stakeholder group for sustainability programs and reporting. Employees rank just under customers as a primary driver and audience of sustainability efforts.
- Greenhouse gas and water reporting are increasingly strong considerations despite regulatory uncertainty.
- Awareness of the scarcity of business resources is on the rise – specifically access to water, water management, water in the supply chain.
- Company executives rely on rankings and surveys.
- Green Supply Chain has elevated sustainable supply chain management as a strategic business sustainability function and including suppliers in the process.
- Big and small firms continue to join forces, continuing B2B collaboration.
- Continuation of private/ public NGO forces uniting for greater good.
- Emerging markets and their impact.
- Wider adaptation of social media for stakeholder engagement.
- The role of boards: oversight and inclusion of business sustainability mandates.
- Continued developments with sustainable packaging.
- Social media marketing gains as key in CSR communications.
Business sustainability is often reduced to environmental or social action. While certainly these are important areas of focus, business sustainability is really about taking action to maintain the on-going health and profitability of the company as a business strategy. While some argue that sustainability is a passing trend, profitable businesses are not. Sustainable business strategies are designed to bring eco-awareness and sustainability concepts to employees, customers, and suppliers, which brings value to the organization and also broadens sustainability concepts into the communities and lives of the individuals. How does your business plan to embrace these sustainability trends in 2013?
Julie Urlaub is the founder and managing partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability social media consulting firm, where she aids clients to powerfully engage in sustainability-related issues and stakeholder communications in the social space. She can be contacted at www.taigacompany.com | @taigacompany | Facebook/TaigaCompany