Many, who are managing businesses, believe that embracing an environmental sustainability strategy is bad for the bottom line. But, like all business decisions the right decisions are the ones that favorably impact the bottom line and having the right sustainability program will do just that.
A study, just issued by A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm, found that companies with a "true commitment to environmental sustainability" outperformed their industry peers. The study found that in 16 out of 18 industries studied, sustainability focused companies outperformed their peers by 15% over the last 6 months of 2009! Those are huge numbers. More importantly, the study found that companies prospering most were the ones with the oldest sustainability programs and it's these companies that are now superior to their peers in terms of competitive advantage and market momentum.
As I've reported to you in the past, any company that makes the decision to adopt a more efficient eco-profile and where the sustainable endeavors become a fundamental part of the business strategy, numerous benefits in terms of profitability, branding/marketing and staff relations will accrue. This is now being validated by studies - like the A.T. Kearney one - which positively conclude that reducing energy and water consumption, recycling, and re-education of staff on sustainability issues are business realities which must not be ignored or discounted.
Corporate environmental policies can no longer be viewed as nice to have prerogatives. Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting and consulting firm, has documented that clients - which reported and tracked their sustainability efforts - experienced superior returns on assets than clients that did not. So, it is critical to be able to demonstrate the value and return on investment that instituting environmental reforms can make. Gradual sustainability transformations are much easier to benchmark, track, and report on, so to begin - think small.
To demonstrate, lets go really small and really easy. This month, replace all dry-cell batteries with rechargeable ones (a small investment). Over the next 6 months measure how much was saved in supply costs by switching to the rechargeables and the internal benefits gained by instituting this small recycling initiative - you'll be surprised.
Over the next several issues I will present other actions that can improve your bottom line through sustainability. And remember: tangible results from environmental sustainability efforts won't happen overnight, so it's important to set realistic and achievable goals that can be built on over time.