Today more so than ever, consumers and stakeholders alike are increasingly focused on sustainable business practices, writes HubSpot’s APAC culture manager, Claudia Shepherd.
This shift in focus is pressing businesses to integrate sustainability into their core values. According to YouGov, 50 per cent of consumers believe businesses have a responsibility to do social good, suggesting that corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be an important consideration for all businesses.
CSR refers to a company’s commitment to practice environmental and social sustainability, and to be good stewards of the environment and the social landscapes in which they operate.
Beyond a business’s customers, current and future employees have singled out CSR as an integral and desirable quality in the company they choose to work for.
And the benefits to the bottom line of businesses that choose to approach growth with a conscience are well documented. Businesses are seeing a positive return on investment with growth in market share, improved employee productivity as well as attracting sustainability-conscious employees and customers.
Sendle is an example of an impact-driven venture which has shown that green is good for business, and has established itself as Australia’s first 100 per cent carbon-neutral delivery service. The startup’s unique approach to sustainability has seen it experience significant growth.
Sendle is a great example of a company that’s not only growing but is choosing to grow better.
The millennial difference
The latest Deloitte Millennial Survey revealed that millennials’ opinion of business motivations and ethics is at its lowest level in four years, with less than half (45 per cent) of millennials believing business has a positive impact on society.
With millennials projected to make up 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020, companies should be considering the importance of “succeeding with a soul” for the workforce of the future. They don’t just care about professional growth, but also what impact that growth has on the world around them.
Loyalty to a brand or employer extends beyond the services and products provided. Instead, employees want to feel good about partnering with a business that cares about supporting the issues that matter the most to them.
Employees are increasingly looking for businesses that prioritise strong corporate citizenship and demonstrate ethical, moral and socially responsible behaviour, and this is even more apparent when it comes to millennials.
Businesses must think beyond traditional perks such as beanbags and free beer on a Friday, and roll out socially responsible initiatives in a bid to retain and attract talent.
One dream, one team
Improving sustainability as a business has a domino effect: it encourages individuals to reflect on their own behaviour and work together as a team to make improvements. When you are working towards a common goal, whether it’s to use less plastic or hit your KPIs for the quarter, it gives you purpose and inspires you to do better together.
At HubSpot, we strive to ensure that everything we do is aligned with our core values of HEART — Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent — including our approach to sustainability.
If an employee sees an area where we’re not being eco-friendly, we want to create an environment where they feel empowered to call us out, knowing that our leadership teams will react with empathy and humility, and ultimately that they’ll be heard and taken seriously.
Case in point: we have an employee-run group called EcoSpot, which is dedicated to improving the sustainability of the office. It came about after a few employees raised concern that we could be doing more to reduce our impact on the environment.
The team is passionate about encouraging the wider business to make small changes to their daily habits which can make a big difference to the environment. One of the greatest benefits of EcoSpot, like many other initiatives we run, is that it unites individuals with a common interest and provides them with an opportunity to pursue their true passion during office hours.
Allowing employees to spin up initiatives like this goes a long way in creating a space where everybody feels comfortable bringing their “whole selves” to work, including the social and environmental issues they feel passionate about.
Examples of EcoSpot initiatives include regular beach cleans, running a KeepCup campaign to reduce waste, and changing any disposable crockery and cutlery to recyclable options, or even better, not using disposables at all. In February, as part of our annual HEART Week that celebrates our company’s values, we gifted every employee a KeepCup to encourage our teams to do their bit for the planet.
The businesses that meet their employees’ expectations when it comes to sustainability are not the ones that simply have a CSR program in place. CSR initiatives should tie in with the business’s core values; otherwise, it’s just lip service.
When your employees feel aligned with your company’s values, and you make space for them to shape your culture, they naturally become brand advocates and your business grows as a result.
Choosing to grow better, and to grow your company with a conscience, is good for business all around.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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