10 Tips For Growing A Sustainable Business

Today, more than 90 per cent of CEOs believe that sustainability is imperative for their business success. The trend is deeply rooted at business schools too, 88 per cent of students consider environmental and social issues are top priorities in business, and 67 per cent want to incorporate environmental sustainability into their future jobs.

Undeniably, sustainability is key to a better future. And in our series already we have highlighted how to create a truly sustainable business that has a meaningful positive impact on the planet and society whilst improving company results.

Today, we would like to share some actionable tips that you can incorporate into your business strategy right away.

#1 Connect with the need

If a business as a whole wants to commit to becoming sustainable, the first step is developing a sustainability mindset. Mindset and behavioural change often come from the leadership team. So the challenge lies in helping business leaders to truly connect with the need of the planet and society. This requires leaders who have a strong sense of purpose and an inherent motivation to meet the triple bottom line of social, environmental and financial performance.

#2 Repair social trust

Business leaders need to work on improving the image of the oil industry in the eyes of society, their consumers, employees and the communities they are present in. Partnering with governments, customers, professionals, and civil societies, and positively contributing to the community, and then openly communicating their sustainable practices, will help regain societal trust in the business.

#3 Make sustainability a core principle

Sustainability to become a central part of the business operations, require constant education on what sustainability truly means, and why it is so significant for the future. Reading articles about sustainable topics, being up to date with the newest sustainability trends, attending sustainable-focused conferences, and joining industry coalitions that are focused on bringing the Global Goals into fruition are good starting points.

#4 Set a long-term sustainability purpose

Your business strategy should be driven by a clear long-term purpose. It should be set based on the company’s business model, but also build on its products’ benefits, the organization’s scale and influence, its core competencies, and its stakeholders’ concerns, needs and aspirations. Incorporating the social purpose the company serves, enables employees to understand the higher purpose and use the company as a means to create meaning in their work.

#5 Hire people aligned with the company’s values

The critical element to creating a vibrant sustainable business is to find ways to get all employees, from top management to frontline employees, personally engaged in day-to-day corporate sustainability efforts. The easiest way to get buy-in from employees is to hire professionals who are passionate, committed to the philosophy, whose values are aligned with the corporate vision of the future.

#6 Incorporate diverse leadership

Sustainable business is not only focused on the environment, but includes greater equality, and investing in diversity. It is broadly argued that women in leadership drive significant economic opportunities and better organizational performance, as well as, long-term benefits for society and the environment. According to a new report “Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals”, gender equality in the workplace can help unlock more than US$12 trillion in new market value linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

#7 Innovate to drive sustainability

Innovation is absolutely essential to sustainable development. Sustainability brings enormous opportunities to re-invent products and services to achieve massive market advantages while producing environmental and socioeconomic benefits. To do so, organizations need to explore alternatives to current ways of doing business, examine products life cycles as well as understanding how companies can meet customers’ needs differently.

#8 Be accountable and constantly improve

Many inspiring sustainable organizations within the oil industry are exceedingly transparent, disclosing information about the environmental impacts of their products, manufacturing processes, labour practices, how sustainable their materials are, and areas they are working to improve. Being transparent eliminates complacency, being accountable guarantees the organization is continually endeavouring to discover better approaches to diminish the negative impact on the environment and fosters greater credibility with customers and other stakeholders.

#9 Embrace competitors as sustainability collaborators

There are plenty of like-minded businesses in the oil industry that share the same motivations and sustainability aspirations. Partner with them, ask their advice and support each other’s endeavours. This type of collaboration will make a positive impact on the environment and potentially develop innovations that might be out of reach for a single company.

#10 Communicate your commitment to sustainability

Incorporating sustainability into your business strategy is an important step. However, it is equally important to communicate your sustainability commitment internally among your team, and externally to business partners, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders.

  • By communicating internally in a consistent and transparent way, sustainability becomes an ingrained part of your company culture, one that your employees can take pride in, increasing their job satisfaction and productivity.
  • By communicating externally to business partners and suppliers you are setting expectations about what and how you do business. This can positively impact their practices and set standards in the broader community as well.
  • And by communicating to customers, you demonstrate the company shares its customer’s commitment to the planet. This is significant because more customers are becoming environmentally aware and expect this kind of commitment from the organizations they buy from.

Sustainable goes beyond green

The acknowledgement organizations must make is that sustainability goes beyond focusing solely on the environmental aspects. It involves all three major dimensions – ecological, economic and social – each of them should be considered to create a genuine sustainability strategy. As a company committed to sustainability, ABN Resource is proud to be a part of the sustainability movement to create a better future for the next generations.