The many benefits of moving towards more sustainable products and business practices are obvious – but how many people associate sustainability with savings?
While some aspects of ‘going green’ can come at a premium cost, there are many ways that sustainability can benefit your bottom line, even though these may not seem obvious to begin with. A recent report from Sustainable Brands collated the results from 22 studies demonstrating the positive return on investment of sustainability, and the statistics are compelling. Increased sales, growth in company market value, improved employee productivity and reduced risk exposure are just some of the success stories showing that going green need not break the bank – and might in fact help cash flow.
Even simple measures, such as finding ways to reduce energy consumption or reduce waste, will result in overall reductions in costs. Taking more substantial steps can provide even greater benefits. One study showed that companies with corporate sustainability programs were able to increase their overall revenue by up to 20 per cent and their market value by as much as six per cent.
A huge part of reaping the rewards of sustainability comes from the impact it has on your brand. Directly linking sustainability values to your business builds a strong sense of trust with existing and potential clients – and this, in turn, equates to better sales. One study found a strong positive correlation between sustainable values and brand trustworthiness, with 71 per cent of businesses reporting measurable improvements in brand engagement.
The demand for sustainable practices is already there, and businesses need to find credible ways of communicating their values to consumers and stakeholders in order to benefit. Companies manufacturing more sustainable products reported that they were able to better meet consumer demands, as well as being able to save money on manufacturing costs through more efficient systems. Additionally, companies with good performance on material sustainability issues performed particularly well with shareholders, showing that investing in sustainability issues enhances company value.
Improved worker health and productivity is another key area where a healthy, sustainability-focussed workplace environment can lead to significant business benefits. Having a sustainability program in place boosts employee engagement and productivity, and can reduce turnover by up to 50 per cent, according to one study. Healthier, happier employees will take less sick leave, will work more efficiently, and are far more likely to feel a high level of satisfaction and fulfilment in their work.
Finally, sustainable businesses are able to reduce their exposure to risk and boost their savings through improvements to their supply chains. Many of today’s logistics and supply chain systems are incredibly complex, leading to the risk that somewhere along the line is a disaster waiting to happen. Companies may be risking severe damage to their reputation thanks to environmentally or socially harmful manufacturing processes that could be lurking in the lower levels of a supply chain, or the risk could be financial due to global market and currency volatility. Ensuring transparency and traceability throughout supply chain operations reduces this risk and benefits all involved.
The case has been well and truly made for improving sustainability across all areas of your business. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider your company practices to benefit the environment, human health and wellbeing, and your bottom line as well.