Why should sustainability be embedded into the culture of every business?

25th of August 2016 Article by Dr Ilham Kadri
Why should sustainability be embedded into the culture of every business?

Dr Ilham Kadri, president of the Diversey Care division at Sealed Air, writes her latest blog for ECJ. Here she explains that business leaders must adopt sustainable practices not as a means to raise reputation, but to ensure their business's longevity.

In the not so distant past, chemical spills and climate change would go widely unnoticed by all. Thankfully, the impact of these environmental disasters and their reporting couldn't be more transparent. Globalisation and the tremendous increase in the use of the internet and social media has meant that things are much more public with regards to sustainability.

It was only this month that a new ‘State of the Climate' report was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, highlighting that the impacts felt from climate change are no longer subtle. 2015 was named as the warmest year on record, and it has been revealed that the temperature of the air and oceans are breaking records and sea levels are reaching historic heights. Business leaders in the cleaning sector must understand their responsibilities and embrace sustainability at every juncture.

In 2013, it was announced by the European Parliament and Council that there would be a disclosure of non-financial information from over 6,000 large companies in a step to promote sustainability. These companies are now required to report on their policies regarding diversity and social issues, as well as the risk they pose to the environment. This increase in visibility of sustainable actions initially led to certain businesses investing in eco-friendly practices simply to raise their reputation and demonstrate great ethics in the most aesthetic way.

However the tides are changing. I have noticed that in recent years, sustainability is no longer considered to be about reputation, instead it is something which is being rightly integrated into every aspect of a business.

Now business leaders must take into consideration things such as how are products being built? What materials are being used to construct the cleaning products? How much energy are we using to build these products? How are the cleaning products packaged? How can companies ensure that they use less water? How is the cleaning equipment being maintained? These are all things that I have questioned in my role at the helm of Diversey Care. It is important to note that there are no quick fixes or shortcuts when it comes to implementing the appropriate sustainable practices.

Often business leaders fail to gauge how the decisions made with regards to sustainability can impact a business and its longevity. Investing in sustainable practices and processes can mean that your business is entitled to a range of financial tax incentives - a way of creating additional revenue for your business.

As a whole, sustainability pays off for businesses. According to a piece of consumer research by The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), knowing that a company is mindful of their impact on the environment and society makes consumers 58 per cent more likely to buy their products or services.

Of course sustainability will not only reap in the financial gain for a company. Investing in sustainability is excellent for employee moral as employees like to work in a place that supports a wider cause. Retaining excellent talent is crucial for a business to progress at a quick pace, so sustainability is key.

Sustainability is a truly unstoppable force. It has been revealed that the global market volume for environmental technologies alone is to reach a projected €2.4 billion by 2020. For business leaders, it is no longer a case of whether your business should invest in sustainable practices - instead it is how?


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