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How to Become a More Sustainable Business

How to become a more sustainable company

In recent years, as sustainable business practices have become more and more common, the role of vice president, director or head of sustainability has changed from a somewhat obscure position to a role played by almost every Fortune 500 company. And as a small business in the United States and abroad.

A 2017 McKinsey survey found that “nearly six in ten respondents said that their organization is more concerned about sustainable development than two years ago”, and more than eight in ten respondents are engaged in the consumer goods industry, four out of ten The third respondent did the same in infrastructure. 70% of respondents said that their company has implemented some form of sustainable governance, up from 54% three years ago.

What is a sustainable business?

Whether through the creation of environmentally friendly products, social initiatives or other sustainable strategies, sustainable companies are committed to minimizing any potential negative impacts they may have on the environment. Sustainable companies recognize that it is essential to move towards greater sustainability within our company and focus on creating a more circular economy.

Although consumers and companies are increasingly receptive to sustainable development plans, communicating the value of sustainable development within an organization can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. As the Chief Sustainability Officer of Rubicon®, a software company born in the waste and recycling industry, I am lucky that sustainability has become the core of everything we do. However, I know that this is not the case for all sustainability professionals. If you work for a large company, it is very likely that even if your organization has a role as a sustainability professional, it may not have resources that other teams might like. This means you must be resourceful and rely on the support of other teams to achieve your goals. Similarly, if you are a small business owner, your desire to follow a sustainable business strategy may be strong, but budget constraints may not allow too many changes in this area.

After talking to my entire sustainability team at Rubicon, we pieced together the five most important steps for sustainability professionals and those who want to apply sustainability practices to their own businesses.

Step 1: Explain the intangible benefits of sustainability

Few companies on the planet would say that they do not want to protect the environment, even if operating sustainable business practices is not their first priority. However, unless they see the real and tangible benefits of making sustainable business models a core part of the platform, they are unlikely to change their practices anytime soon.

Sincere attention to sustainable development in your business is no longer just icing on the cake; it is a must. One of the biggest challenges faced by sustainability professionals within organizations is to be able to explain the intangible benefits of sustainability, such as the positive reactions of customers and potential customers to your business, and how this affects your bottom line, brand value, and your Competitive advantages.

Step 2: Clarify what sustainable business practices mean for your business

In order for sustainability to be operational, it must be contextualized. Known as a sustainable business and recognizing the intangible benefits of what sustainability means to your organization can be two very different things.

Although organizations may choose to simply say "We are a sustainable company" in their messages, this does not express anything at a meaningful level of detail. The first challenge that any effective sustainability professional must face is to determine the specific sustainability-related challenges facing their organization, including the organization’s countless social and environmental impacts, and then find a way to quantify these environmental and Social impact and translate it into financial, operational or other indicator-driven terms that other business functions can easily understand.

For example, while the intangible benefits of being called a sustainable business in your community may lead to increased consumer preference for your products or services, in reality for your company, this may mean running a sustainable business Supply chain, which translates into the processes your company needs to produce products or services from start to finish, or it may mean developing a sustainability plan (see below) within your organization that allows all employees to participate in your company's sustainability work. Other ways to create quantitative sustainable results may be to reduce waste generation or rely on renewable energy sources.

Step 3: Develop a sustainable development plan

Needless to say, if you do not participate in sustainable business practices, you cannot claim to operate or work in a sustainable business. One way is to develop a sustainability plan; focus on making your company and its employees follow sustainable best practices.

For example, educating your employees on the correct recycling practices and the dangers of recycling pollution through expected recycling, which may result in large amounts of recycled materials being sent to landfills.

Although it is always difficult to measure the short-term return on investment of such programs, when we look at the big picture and consider longer timelines, it is clear that developing a sustainable development plan in your business has a far-reaching positive impact. In the long run, investments focused on strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards tend to outperform other investments, and companies that follow sustainable business practices perform better than ever.

Step 4: Involve employees

Although sustainability is a very common idea, most people are just beginning to understand its importance.In most companies, employees are not measured by performance indicators related to sustainability. In practice, most of these organizations will benefit from the part of each employee’s performance compensation related to the company’s environmental impact . Whether you are already a sustainable company committed to involving employees, or a small business owner who wants to instill the importance of sustainable business practices to part-time weekend employees, conveying how sustainable development can and should be the core mission of your company Part.

Explaining the situation to different stakeholders in a language they can understand-showing them the value of sustainability to their business-is the key. In large organizations, discussing with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) how improving sustainable business practices will reduce costs or increase revenue, and within what time frame, is critical to obtaining support.

Step 5: Measure sustainability performance

The measurement and tracking of sustainability indicators is still a developing area.

When trying to gain recognition from different stakeholders on the importance of becoming a sustainable business, the biggest problem you will face is the simple fact that it is difficult to measure how a particular set of sustainability initiatives will affect you What impact your corporate brand has on your bottom line.

Although you can usually say that the "X" plan will result in a "Y" financial return and/or "Z" customer retention, this is hard to say for a sustainable business strategy.

Due to the lack of consistency between the report and the terminology used, most sustainability reports currently do not allow direct comparisons between companies. This needs to be changed in order to truly track and measure the company’s sustainability performance. The Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is a non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco. It was established in 2012 to connect companies and investors to understand the financial impact of sustainability. It is currently using its standards and tools to implement Principles of the reporting framework and communicate sustainability to provide data to investors more effectively. With the support of prominent figures such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Shapiro, efforts such as these are helping companies build greater consistency in sustainability performance measurement sex.

If you have any questions, or if you are interested in discussing with my team how to work hard to create more sustainable business practices, please contact Rubicon’s sustainability team directly at, or contact us through the following methods Sales team (844) 479-1507.

David Rachelson is Rubicon's Chief Sustainability Officer. To stay ahead of the new global partnerships and cooperation announced by Rubicon, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us immediately.

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