Why businesses need to lead the sustainable future movement
Large organisations and businesses play a crucial role in encouraging a sustainable future, be it economic, environmental, or social. As a business's primary function is to address challenges in society and provide solutions, it’s imperative that they continuously evolve and adapt to serve their consumers. While the world faces environmental, social, and economic problems, from climate change and the widening wage gap to ethnic marginalisation and discrimination, it can seem beyond the capacity of one company to solve. However, sustainable businesses and their leaders understand their duty to take the first step and shoulder part of the responsibility.
Additionally, the rise in consumer power means that businesses must now trade whilst being conscious of public opinion. Organisations that are not proactively sustainable will struggle to remain relevant in consumers’ eyes.
The benefits of embracing sustainability
Many companies are sceptical of the impact sustainability has on their bottom line, holding the misconception that the costs of improving sustainability far outweigh the benefits. HSBC’s Navigator Report outlines that sustainability in Australian business is motivated by three key factors:
- buyer expectations (34%),
- complying with regulatory and governing standards (27%), and;
- improving reputational advantages (25%).
It’s no longer enough for companies to simply just meet governing standards; consumers are now expecting businesses to pave the way towards a sustainable future for their community while also encouraging these behaviours in others. Consumers are also actively selecting goods and services based on a company’s sustainability efforts, with 55% of global online consumers willing to pay more for products and services from companies who engage in sustainability. What was once considered a “nice to have”, sustainability is now a business imperative offering tangible rewards.
These motivations are further reflected in the broader global community, the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) released a report outlining the primary benefits for organisations around the world who choose sustainable business development.
Sustainability to meet consumer and stakeholder expectations: Consumers, investors and key stakeholders are increasingly more concerned with how businesses are affecting social and environmental change. From materials to methods of production, consumers deem product sustainability an essential factor when making a purchase. According to CGS’s Consumer Sustainability Survey, 68% of those surveyed rate sustainability as an important factor when making a purchase and 28% believe sustainable business practices drive brand loyalty.
Be the sustainability pioneer, not the follower: As industry norms are constantly evolving, businesses have the ability to create new sustainability benchmarks which they hold themselves accountable to. As well as consumers, businesses also play a significant role in sustainable consumption through both the products they produce, and how they produce them. Modern businesses that embrace sustainable business practices, rather than just adhere to them are commercial leaders.
Finding and retaining excellent employee talent: BSR reports that 64% of millennials will consider a business’ corporate social responsibility values (including their social and environmental policies) when taking a job. Additionally, employees are also found to be more engaged with their work when they believe they are driving positive change, leading to strong employee retention.
Succeed with corporate responsibility: Sustainable business models encourage a focus on longevity and stability, and implementing these principles allows for more efficient business operations. Sustainability is also seen as a key to risk mitigation. Companies who have achieved sustainable business practices are better positioned to manage social, environmental, and economic changes, as they take a proactive rather than reactive approach to challenges and industry shifts.
How business can improve with a sustainable focus
Turning sustainable values into actionable and measurable steps is simple with the right guidance. The HSBC Navigator outlines top ways Australia’s leading companies are already setting future sustainability standards.
1. Employee health and wellbeing is a core business focus
Businesses are choosing to promote employee health and well-being through flexible work arrangements and added investments in online support tools. While managerial styles can vary, ensuring all employees feel included and valued in the workplace drives sustainable performance.
2. Diversity and equality in the workplace
It’s predicted that 35% of Australian businesses will invest in employee wellbeing and diversity within the next five years. Building a diverse workforce comprised of professionals from different backgrounds allows for a multifaceted and nuanced lens when making business decisions.
3. Reducing waste
Businesses need to implement strategies to reduce their waste and consider their environmental impact at all stages of the supply chain. From implementing recycling protocols to sourcing products through sustainable channels, leading companies need to meet the environmental concerns of the twenty-first century and push for environmental protection.
4. Implement greater transparency and visibility
As consumers become increasingly aware of their own environmental and social impact, they expect the businesses they engage with to do so also. From employee management to ethical supply chain operations, consumers want to see how businesses are operating with sustainable and ethical practices in mind. Sustainable businesses strive for total transparency and visibility.
Learn about more sustainable business practices you can implement into your business.
Forward-thinking companies need qualified leaders
Become a leader who is passionate about meeting new sustainability benchmarks and setting sustainability goals which go above and beyond societal expectations. Griffith University’s accelerated online Master of Business Administration is rooted in sustainability and responsible leadership, the program endeavours to teach the next generation of change leaders how to implement positive change. Griffith’s MBA program maintained its Tier One ranking in the CEO Magazine’s 2020 Global Online MBA Rankings for its uniquely modern and sustainable approach to business management.
"The coronavirus pandemic has given society a timely warning about our sustainability and a renewed awakening about the fragile eco-system of our planet… Value-based and responsible thinking and acting when it comes to business is more important than ever and business education must lead this movement." – Griffith University’s MBA Program Director, Associate Professor, Stephanie Schleimer
This specialised program covers traditional MBA courses while also offering unique units such as ‘Sustainability and Systems Thinking’, ‘Developing Values-based Leadership’ and ‘Innovation for Impact’, which teaches leaders how to be a driving force towards a sustainable future.
For more information about studying Griffith's accelerated online Master of Business Administration, call us on 1300 737 945 or book a call with an Advisor today.