Sustainable business is a way of doing business that prioritizes people and the planet alongside profits. By embracing sustainable business practices, companies can positively impact society, reduce their environmental footprint, and position themselves for long-term success.
What are the key drivers of sustainable business?
Consumers, employees, and investors are the key drivers of sustainable business. Here’s how.
- Consumers: Today’s consumers demand sustainable products and services and won’t settle for anything less.
- Employees: Employees, especially young talent, want to work for companies that prioritize sustainability and do well by doing good.
- Investors: More and more investors are turning to sustainable investing as they seek to align their investments with their personal values.
8 sustainable business practices for a better tomorrow
Here are 8 sustainable business practices that every company can implement to contribute to a better world and achieve long-term success.
1. Improve energy efficiency
Taking steps to improve energy efficiency in your company is essential to making your business more sustainable.
There are many ways in which companies can reduce their energy consumption. Some are easier to implement and require less effort, while others take longer, are more expensive, and involve more work. But in the long run, it’s definitely worth it.
Here are a few examples of what you can do to optimize your business’ energy consumption:
- Switch to renewable energy
- Upgrade to LED lighting
- Lease or buy commercial buildings that have obtained a green building certification (e.g., BREEAM, LEED, HQE)
- Ask employees to turn off heating and cooling appliances, lights, and electronic devices when they don’t need them
- Install smart thermostats
- Don’t overuse HVAC systems
- Invest in energy-efficient appliances and equipment
2. Ensure a safe and healthy work environment
Ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for all employees is another crucial step towards becoming a more sustainable business.
Besides protecting them from workplace hazards, sustainable companies also support their employees’ physical and mental well-being.
Some measures you can take to create a healthy and safe work environment include:
- minimizing or eliminating workplace hazards
- complying with health and safety regulations
- providing adequate workplace safety training to all employees
- developing a health and safety policy
- providing personal protective equipment to workers
- offering free or subsidized gym memberships to your staff
- adopting flexible work schedules
- setting up ergonomic workstations
- implementing an anti-harassment policy
- making sure that workloads are manageable
- providing private medical insurance
3. Reduce water consumption
Water conservation should be a priority for any sustainable business. Here are a few ways to reduce wastewater in your organization:
- educate employees about the importance of water conservation
- install water-efficient fixtures such as dual flush toilets, waterless urinals, aerated faucets, flow restrictors, etc.
- regularly check for and repair leaks
- run dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full
- employ water-efficient technologies
- ask employees to turn off the faucet while they soap their hands
4. Pay employees a living wage
A living wage is a wage that covers the basic needs of your employees and their families and also provides them with some discretionary income. Besides improving your staff’s circumstances, a living wage enables them to live decent lives.
Unfortunately, many companies still pay workers minimum wages even though, in numerous cases, the minimum wage does not guarantee a decent living.
Sustainable businesses understand that the minimum wage is not always a living wage. Therefore, they always pay salaries that meet the actual cost of living.
5. Minimize waste
You can significantly lower your company’s environmental impact by taking appropriate measures to reduce waste throughout business operations. Such measures include:
- using recycled or upcycled materials instead of virgin materials
- partnering with anti-food waste apps or local food banks
- setting up recycling and composting programs within the organization
- replacing all disposable items with reusable ones
- eliminating paper-based processes with the help of digital technology
- paring down packaging materials
- donate office supplies and equipment you don’t need anymore
6. Provide equal opportunity employment
Sustainable businesses do not discriminate against employees or candidates based on gender, nationality, race, religion, etc.
Therefore, it is crucial that you provide equal opportunities, pay, and treatment to all existing and potential employees in order to achieve your sustainability goals.
A good idea is to develop a strict Equal Opportunity Policy and take appropriate measures to ensure that all employees follow it.
7. Embed sustainability into your company’s DNA
Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility — from directors and managers to operative employees. Therefore, educating all your staff about sustainability plays a huge role in creating a sustainable organizational culture.
However, educating people is not enough; business leaders must also walk the talk. Hence, you have to hire directors and managers who care about sustainability and place it at the heart of the business strategy.
8. Build a sustainable supply chain
Many companies deem themselves sustainable because their direct operations don’t harm people or the environment. However, corporate sustainability goes beyond an organization’s direct operations.
A sustainable company ensures that its suppliers and business partners also carry out their operations in a way that doesn’t damage the planet or the people living on it.
Therefore, a crucial step towards becoming a sustainable business is working with suppliers and third-party logistics providers that:
- do not use child labor
- treat their workers fairly
- have a minimal environmental impact
- provide their employees with a safe and healthy working environment
- have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate
To avoid doing business with unsustainable companies, all organizations should conduct supply chain due diligence before starting a business relationship with a supplier or third party.
Of course, the measures a company can take to become more sustainable greatly depend on its size and the sector it operates in.
Therefore, each company should assess how its operations affect society and the environment and develop and implement appropriate solutions to minimize their impact.
What are the benefits of sustainability in business?
Integrating sustainability into your business can help you:
- increase your customer base
- strengthen your brand’s reputation
- attract more investments
- reduce costs and improve profitability
- win and retain top talent
How can Penneo Sign help your business become more sustainable?
Penneo Sign is a tool that helps companies digitalize and automate their signing processes. By relying on Penneo Sign, companies can significantly reduce paper waste and work more efficiently.