Sustainability and business are not always seen as a good working pair. Businesses often struggle to implement sustainability measures, as they think that it is taking money from shareholders. However, as more pressure builds from the public, businesses are being forced to look again at combining sustainability and good business practices.
Sustainability and Business
For those working in business, sustainability will involve considering the long-term consequences of industry and manufacturing. Economic sustainability involves developing long-lasting systems of trade, while ensuring that these systems have a lesser impact on the environment than previous methods. Corporate sustainability, meanwhile, focuses upon the environmental and social impact of business actions.
Sustainability and Investment
One reason for business becoming so interested in sustainability is that good business practices are sought out by investors. Some investors look for a worthy project, so improving sustainability measures can bring them in.
Investors may also look at the Life Cycle analysis of a business, which examines the long-term environmental and carbon footprint of a product. Investors can decide not to invest in a company if its footprint is too large. Companies with proven records in global and local sustainability can make profit through employee productivity, better long-term public following, and investments due to good public reputations. Global companies such as Cadburys have made sustainability changes due to these economic reasons.
Sustainability and Competitiveness
There has been a lot of concern voiced by big industry about the negative effects of sustainability including the initial cost investment, but recent research suggests that the two are not in opposition. In recent years, as the public has become more aware of the pressure on the environment, it has become clear that businesses that practice sustainability strategies are in fact getting greater profits, and creating their own consumer path.
Sustainability regulation can also assist competitiveness in business, as it forces industry to innovate and create new solutions, driving up profits for those companies that provide the best products. Sustainability has also been shown to produce new demands and markets for businesses.
The rise in consumer demand for sustainability improvements has led to businesses that were not previously interested in green issues suddenly improving their sustainability practices. Experts suggest that this is to improve their competitiveness against other companies.
Sustainability and Government Grants
Another reason for improving sustainability is the recent raft of legislation from governments across the western world, designed to encourage businesses to reduce their environmental impact. Carbon emissions, water supply, and energy security are now linked with business costs. Government bodies have also become more persistent about prosecuting businesses that pollute water or air.
Sustainability and Business Practices
Sustainability is good for businesses both as a long-term strategy to improve employee confidence, and as a short term response to government legislation. Businesses responding to demands for clearly visible sustainability practices are also more attractive to the new class of ethical investors, and regain the costs of managing sustainability through government grants and increased sales to green activists and other members of the community. Ethical business practices may also improve competitiveness between businesses, encouraging growth and bigger profits.