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Implementing A Sustainable Business Strategy

Why A Sustainable Business Strategy Is Important

With ever-increasing expectations of corporate responsibility and transparency from employees and consumers alike, companies across almost every industry are recognising a need to implement more sustainable practices.

During this period of change, clear and accurate communication is crucial to maintaining transparency with key stakeholders. This allows you to identify faults or gaps in performance more easily when comparing expectations and projections.

When curating a sustainable business strategy, the company’s existing efforts must be aligned in order to mark a coherent and effective change in direction. Without this interlinking, sustainability efforts are weakened by a lack of commitment and prioritisation. Having a proper strategy in place to integrate the proposed improved initiatives and coordinate them with the business’ priorities allows sustainability to become an opportunity for your company, instead of a challenge. 

Developing a sustainable business strategy presents your company with the additional benefit of reviewing its progress so far, before assessing the risks and opportunities that the business will face over the course of its lifetime. This process of regular reflection and operational adjustment ultimately helps to improve the overall reporting of growth to your key stakeholders. They can be assured that a purposeful and goal-oriented sustainability strategy will provide your business with the foundations that it needs to grow and achieve its wider ambitions.

Ensuring A Sustainable Business Strategy

FEEL – Establish Your Core Values 

Your business’ values form the basis of the company vision, culture, future role hires, collaborations or mergers, product creation and day-to-day operations; these should be reflected throughout your sustainable business strategy. A strategy that details the means of bringing these principles to life makes them tangible instead of just aspirational.

RESEARCH – Value Proposition

An effective value proposition is one that is unique amongst your competition and provides measurable value to your consumers. Identifying what is so notable about your value proposition helps to establish long-term business success, especially when intertwined with sustainable and ethical initiatives that demonstrate your commitment to consumers. Offering a unique solution to a problem your customer is facing, in a way that has minimal negative effect on the environment, places your business favourably above your competitors and contributes to the corporate social responsibility of your company.

VISION – The Why of What Your Company Does

Your company vision provides the focus that inspires growth and innovation at both a service and company-wide level. Creating a meaningful and motivational strategy requires tying in reminders of what it is that the company aims to achieve as a whole, giving your team an all-encompassing view of the bigger picture.

TARGET SETTING – Measuring Performance

Setting targets and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is essential to reviewing your business’ progress. When determining which KPIs are the most appropriate, take a moment to decide what success looks like to you, your company and industry. The next step is to then decide how best to measure this success, enabling you to see how effective the strategy is and what opportunities there are for improvement. 

Often, an overarching company vision can be hard to communicate and quantify. By providing your staff with tangible objectives and targets to reach, with each day that passes, you’re all closer to achieving the collective end goal of net zero emissions.

METHOD – How Your Business can Fulfil its Vision

A clear method is the starting point for a strategy, outlining how exactly your business will go about achieving its vision in a sustainable fashion. It clarifies the objectives and specific means of reaching them, helping to ensure that the purpose and passion of your company are maintained over time.

CULTURE – Hire People Who Embody Your Values And Share Your Vision

When taking that next step towards a more sustainable future, it is of the utmost importance to hire staff that believe in your vision and can help to drive your company towards it. Your staff should be advocates and ambassadors of your brand who build industry renown of the company’s forward-thinking stance on sustainability.

This is also a good time for you to personally engage with existing staff who are adjusting to the company’s improved direction. Discussing how these changes are relevant and beneficial to them will encourage them to get involved with day-to-day sustainability efforts, giving you the reassurance that everyone’s values are aligned. As the company moves through each step of the sustainable business strategy, delegation should become easier because of the trust in a shared ethos that has been fostered along the way. 

The Benefits Of A Sustainable Business Strategy 

Identifying Issues And Mitigating Risks To Protect Your Brand

Employing a sustainable strategy that cares for both the environment and your staff will also help to safeguard your practices and reputation against any harmful incidents or crises.

An effective sustainable business strategy has a clear focus and a hierarchical order of priorities structured around the issues considered most crucial by you and your stakeholders. Once this has been identified, investments can be made in the appropriate key areas and tailored plans of action can be drawn up to ensure the success of each one. Planning with this level of precision helps with the implementation and allocation of resources and also makes effective communication of your strategy more straightforward.

Setting Yourself Apart From The Competition

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of unethical business practices and the effect that their purchasing decisions have on the environment and associated workforces. “One in two consumers say they have changed or adapted their consumption behaviour due to sustainability reasons”(Statista, Feb 2021, 1,044 participants,UK), with 19% of all respondents saying that they’ve stopped buying from certain brands in the food and beverages sector, and 20% of 16-19 year olds choosing to boycott a fashion brand in response to insufficient sustainability policies. 

Clearly, sustainable practices have a favourable effect on a company’s reputation and competitive position, helping to strengthen customer loyalty. However, the fact that “69% of respondents would be more likely to purchase from a business that had a B-Corp certification” (Statista, July 2021, 883 participants) indicates not only a changing public mood towards ethical business practices, but also a desire for claims about sustainability to actually be achieved and validated. With one in five consumers suspicious of the eco-friendly claims made by companies (Statista, Feb 2021, 1,044 participants,UK), it is crucial that claims you make are actioned, in order to avoid making customers feel misled. Those left with a sense of having been deceived are unlikely to give second chances, especially as competing companies begin to release their sustainability statements too.

Opportunities For Future Investment

With priorities shifting and the general public becoming more mindful of the impacts of their actions, employers, stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, media, and governments have an active and ever-increasing vested interest in sustainable practices. “More than a third of consumers buy sustainable products for their own conscience” (Statista, Feb 2021, 1,044 participants,UK). These practices are a rich source of innovation, differentiation and competitive advantage, creating further opportunities for future investment. “7% of new investors aged 18-34 chose a new investment for its ethical fund or product.” (Statista, Nov 2019, 2,375 participants, UK).

How Plannet Zero Can Help You

At Plannet Zero, our mission is to help businesses engage their supply chains and employees to understand and reduce their emissions. 

Together, we achieve this by: 

You can trust us to assist you every step of the way through your journey towards net zero. For more information on our services please contact us by phoning +44 20 3637 0055 or emailing us at info@plannetzero.org. We’d love to hear from you. Let’s take this next step towards a more sustainable future.