In 2020, businesses are debating whether they should be incorporating sustainability principles.
The answer? It’s a resounding yes.
Practicing “triple bottom line,” the method of incorporating people, planet, and profit principles into your company will help you attract millennials, engage employees, save money, and do right by the planet.
Millennials and Gen Z Purchase Your Product and Work for You
It’s simple: Millennials and Gen Z care about sustainability.
Research shows it plays a role in their purchasing decisions and perception of companies. If your customers are millennials (and they likely are), consider a sustainability strategy to appeal to them.
Millennials and their Gen Z counterparts have a long life of purchasing ahead of them. And, according to BSR’s report: The State of Sustainable Business in 2018, consumer demand is the second most important driver of sustainability efforts among companies (reputation is the first).
Millennials are also (and will continue to be) your employees. Sustainability highlights an employee’s thirst for purpose. Studies show employees are more engaged at companies with sustainability practices. Higher engagement means lower turnover. Strong employee policies like competitive benefits, diversity engagement, and volunteer days appeal to both employees and the people-oriented principle of triple bottom line thinking.
Work directly with your customers to gather feedback on new products or changes. Poll them about sustainability too! See what causes and issues matter to them and incorporate feedback into strategy development.
Just like with your customers, it’s worth polling your employees to check in on their values and their ideas for corporate responsibility. You certainly don’t want to overlook the ideas within your team.
Climate Change Is Here and It’s Real
Science does not lie. The earth is warming and humans are the cause.
Cities are preparing for this. New York and Boston have climate change plans, and the Paris Climate Agreement has been signed by 185 countries. This is the Planet-focused portion of triple bottom line thinking.
If your business requires cotton, grain, or water to run, it will likely see costs change in the next decade. Drought and rising temperatures will affect the prices of agricultural goods. Insurance companies are incorporating climate change into risk assessments.
It’s better to prepare for this now, rather than be caught behind. Even if your business doesn’t depend on climate-sensitive products, it is still highly recommended to play a part in reducing environmental effects for all human beings.
It’s Good for Business
Sustainability is not only good for people and the environment, but it also just makes smart financial sense.
Employee retention saves money, as described above. Reducing the use of resources saves money. And as research has shown, climate change action will ultimately save money for the economy and create new opportunities.
Start by finding ways to reduce waste of water and energy. Purchasing less paper, office space, or equipment cuts down your carbon footprint and your operating expenses. These practices benefit both your profitability and the planet.
The New Climate Economy Report for 2018 research shows that climate action is a cost-effective solution and bold action on climate change adds $26 trillion to the economy.
This is in part thanks to the reduction of the prices of energy-efficient technologies, including solar panels. Be sure to take advantage of new advancements like these to reduce overall spending on resources.
And don’t forget about new opportunities in the sustainability space. Research from the Carbon Disclosure Project found that money earned from business opportunities related to sustainability earned back seven times their costs.
Millennials are also willing to spend more money on products aligned with sustainability. Sustainability adds the perception of higher quality goods and services.
Use that perception to your bottom line’s advantage. Share environmental inputs, resource savings, and strategies to engage your customer base.
It’s Easier to Start Now Than to Backtrack
Incorporating sustainability when you have fewer employees, fewer processes, and fewer products makes it much easier down the road.
Creating systems now means you have people to train new employees as they come on board. Embedding sustainability at your current size means initiatives and values will grow as you do.
If you’re still on the fence, start conversations at work and with customers to see where they stand on climate change. Ask them what they would like to see from you. I bet it involves sustainability.
Want to learn more about incorporating sustainability into your trade show practices? Give us a shout.
About The Author
Eliza Erskine has a Master’s in Sustainability from the Harvard
Extension School and a BA in Business Administration from Boston University. She
founded Green Buoy Consulting in 2018 to help small and early stage businesses with
sustainability. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in New York City.