Better for business
We are all about helping businesses be better. Better for customers, better for employees, better for leaders and better for shareholders.
Sustainability is a journey and we help businesses at all stages of that journey.
Many organisations have committed to work towards environmental, social and economic sustainability but are still working out how to close the gap between their current performance and their goals. Many more already practice sustainable, purpose-driven business principles– they just don’t use those terms.
What is sustainable, purpose-driven business?
Sustainable businesses usually take a longer-term view of success, considers how to maximise value to all stakeholders (employees, customers, community) not just shareholders and understands that social and environmental issues impact their business, so it makes business sense to understand and address them.
Purpose-driven business formally enshrines that intent. Traditionally businesses have had increasing shareholder value as the core aim or mission of their organisation. A purpose-driven business creates a focus for their organisation that seeks to primarily address a social or environmental issue while making profit, becomes a secondary goal. In other words profit is the means to the end, not the goal itself.
Find out more about the big issues we are trying to address.
The business case
There are many reasons and drivers why businesses are beginning to see sustainability and purpose as an essential part of how they do business. Here is just a short list:
1. Improving risk management
The challenges for business, both big and small, usually have people or the environment at their heart. From recruiting and engaging employees, accessing new markets, crisis management, increasing customer loyalty, ensuring resilience to climate change and staying ahead of regulation trends. Operating a sustainable business helps you understand those risks, what to do about them and even turn them into a positive.
2. Fostering innovation
Sustainability turns the question of "how do we sell more for less?" to a more creative and complex challenge creating fertile ground for innovation and improvement. At its heart sustainability is about building trust, delivering value to all stakeholders and trying to solve social and environmental issues. For the founders of Thankyou their question changed from “How do we sell more bottles of water to more people?” to “How to we help 663 million people around the world access safe water when they currently don’t?”
3. Improving Financial Performance
Sustainable businesses are proving in the long term to perform better financially. At an operational level – the opportunities are obvious – becoming more energy efficient reduces power bills, increased employee engagement reduces turnover. Unilever’s leading ‘sustainable living’ strategy has shown that across all their products the sustainable living brands grew over 50% more than the rest of the business and delivered 60% of the organisation’s growth in 2016.
4. Building Customer Loyalty
Increasingly customers are expecting more of businesses and are aware of the power of their spend to influence and do good. This isn’t just some small group – a Nielson poll of 30,000 global consumers found that 66 per cent of respondents were willing to pay more for a sustainable product, with 75 percent of millennials feeling that way. Increasingly sustainability isn’t becoming a nice-to-have for customers but a primary part of their decision-making criteria.
5. Attracting and Engaging Employees
As a major stakeholder of a business, employees are a critical part of the sustainable business mix. In a Cone survey of millennials 64% of recruits consider a business’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work, with the same amount willing to turn down a job if it doesn’t have strong sustainability values. Once in the job 83% said that they would be more loyal to a business that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues and 88% said they find their job more fulfilling when this happens. At its heart people want to feel like they are having an impact and contributing to making a better world
6. Because we are all connected
More and more businesses are realising that business and society are interdependent. You can’t have thriving, sustainable communities without thriving and sustainable businesses, and vice versa. One example of this is in relation to the STEM skills shortage (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), rather than see this as an issue for schools, communities and government, business around the world have realised that unless kids are being equipped with the knowledge, experience and passion for STEM subjects they are going to struggle to access the workforce they need to keep their business running. From this we have seen companies big and small invest in STEM programmes across the globe, including ensuring that groups such as women and people from all culturally diverse backgrounds are include.