Right now, we’re confronted by how much the health of the world affects us. Whether it’s the planets limits or pandemic’s reach, we’re truly interconnected. Our businesses are an important link between individuals, communities and our shared future. This presents business owners with a responsibility and an opportunity around sustainability.
If we’re ready to step up, sustainable business offers the means to increase revenue, reduce costs, and build legacy of loyalty.
Sustainable practices help grow revenue and create value
The statistics on sustainability and sales are compelling. The majority (73%) of global consumers say they would ‘definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment’.
Two-thirds of New Zealanders are buying organics at least some of the time. The market opportunity is immense. For example, our largest organic food brand, Ceres, recently experienced 100% growth according to New Zealand’s Organic Market report. It says in the same period, the general food sector only saw one or two per cent annual growth.
Beyond sales, environmental responsibility can also lift the non-financial value of your business. Investors are keeping a close eye on ‘ESG Data' which shows a business’ performance here.
Claire Hewitt, of Bright Partners is a strategist for New Zealand brands looking to reap the benefits of ‘doing good’. She says, “People are often surprised at the business improvements that come from focusing on impact. It helps makes effective operations simpler and more streamlined. It’s simply good management to reduce waste, strengthen relationships and earn trust as a responsible corporate citizen.”
Reduce waste; reduce costs
A sustainable approach to business can save you money – in the short term and beyond. Efficient management of water and energy, reduced waste charges are some of the immediate benefits of lowering your businesses’ negative impact on the environment. But that’s only the start.
Climate-risk is a busy topic in insurance fees and property values. Additionally, carbon costs are playing an ever bigger role in our economic future. The Climate Commission’s own estimate is that costs of reducing or mitigating a tonne of greenhouse gas emissions could rise from $40 today, to $140 in 2030, and $250 in 2050.
It makes sense to reduce your emissions now. For ideas on where to start, check out the free climate action tool box for small business at Business.govt.nz.
Responsible brands attract responsible staff
Many Kiwi businesses face intense competition for good staff. Research carried out by Mckinsey & Co. found quality employees are 400% more productive than average performing employees. So, it makes sense to give your employment brand an edge.
Businesses with strong sustainability practices also enjoy better staff engagement. A survey carried out by Fast Company shows that in particular millennials are likely to choose to work for, and stay with, a company that has a strong sustainability plan.
In New Zealand, there are more than one million millennials - 37% of our total working population. Behind them, Globally, Gen Y is considered to be the most environmentally concerned generation yet.
Bring it together to unlock the benefits of sustainable business
Claire Hewitt says, “Most small business owners are doing a lot of positive things. However, they’re stretched so thin that their impact can be inconsistent; it means they don’t reap the benefits.
“Sustainability doesn’t have to be unnecessarily complicated. If the approach is robust, and consistently focuses on what’s material, everyone wins. That includes your bottom line, the planet and the next generation.”
Furthermore, a Business Mentor can help you think about your market opportunities, understand your company finances, and act as a sounding board in other areas of business such as managing and growing your team. If you don’t yet have a Mentor, you can register online today.