As a COO, you have many priorities to juggle daily. From shareholders to employees and clients, everyone demands a piece of your time and attention. With so many demands, it can be easy to let sustainability fall by the wayside.
But sustainability shouldn't be an afterthought — it should be a key part of your boardroom agenda. Whether or not you’re personally concerned with environmental issues, sustainability is becoming increasingly important to your current and future employees and clients. As a COO, it's your responsibility to ensure your company is prepared to meet the challenges of a sustainable future.
Sustainability — A Global Concern
Sustainability is more than just a buzzword — it's a real and pressing concern for people living all over the world. There is no country left untouched by the environmentally harmful and unsustainable practices of the past, and the effects of climate change are being felt by everyone.
In India, 140 million people breathe air that is 10 times over the safe limit set by the WHO. In parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, unprecedented droughts are causing such severe food scarcity that it's predicted there will be around 5.7 million acutely malnourished children in the region by the end of 2022. Globally, the years 2016 and 2020 were the warmest on record, and this trend is unlikely to slow down unless humanity as a whole takes action.
Different nations may have different priorities when it comes to sustainability, but the one thing that unites us all is the need to drive change.
The Importance of Sustainability To Your Business
As a COO, you have the power to make changes within your company and help create a sustainable future for the world. However, it's undeniable that meeting the demands of sustainability can be a challenge. It requires you to rethink your business model, which can be daunting for even the most forward-thinking companies.
Consumers are increasingly looking for companies that share their values — and sustainability is high on that list. In fact, a recent study found that 85% of consumers have taken steps to make "greener" purchasing decisions, and one-third of Millennials will favour a more environmentally friendly product alternative if it exists.
And it's not just customers and clients COOs should be concerned about. In the current labour shortage, a company's branding strategy is just as crucial to attracting and retaining top talent. A study by Glassdoor examined job seeker attitudes across four different countries and found that 79% of respondents would consider a company's mission statement before even making an application. If your business does not align with the values of your potential employees, you're likely to find your pool of applicants drying up.
Embedding Sustainability In Your Business Practices
So, how can you make sure that sustainability is high on your boardroom agenda? The first step is to take a good hard look at your company's business practices and see where there is room for improvement. It's important to remember that sustainability encompasses more than just environmental concerns, it also includes social and economic sustainability. To be truly sustainable, your company needs to have a positive impact on all three fronts.
Here are some examples of how you can embed sustainability into your business practices:
Review your company's supply chain and make sure you’re sourcing sustainable materials from environmentally and socially responsible suppliers.
Evaluate your energy use and take steps to reduce unnecessary consumption.
Review your packaging and transportation methods and make changes to reduce your carbon footprint.
Implement policies and procedures to reduce waste and increase recycling.
Train your employees on the importance of sustainability and how they can help make a difference.
Support sustainable initiatives in the local community.
Making sustainability a priority in your business is not only the right thing to do, but it's also good for business. By acting now, you can position your company as a leader in sustainability and help create a better future for the world — all while increasing your bottom line.