A sustainable business is committed to protecting our planet and the welfare of its inhabitants, besides its long-time feasibility. With the improvement actions I suggest in this post, you can identify the best suitable practices for continuing the improvement of your business.
We can achieve a sustainable future by making our contribution, even more at the enterprise level. The way towards sustainability is a long-distance race, where the environmental, social and economic aspects of the business are continuously optimised to reduce the negative impacts and increase the positive ones. By doing so, a more respectful enterprise activity can be achieved, both at local and global levels.
Benefits of sustainable businesses
Responsible and sustainable businesses have many personal, corporate and global benefits. Among them, depending on the implemented measures, the following:
- Reduction of daily activity impacts.
- Better health and life quality.
- Satisfaction for contributing to the protection of the planet.
- Consistency with the brand values.
- Higher process efficiency.
- Less resource consumption.
- Better quality of the final product.
- Increased security, satisfaction and productivity of employees.
- Compliance and early adaptation to legislation.
- Awareness and enhancement of responsible consumption.
- Differentiation from competitors.
- Connection to committed customers.
- Improved relationship with stakeholders.
- Collaboration and synergies with other entities with similar goals.
- Lower impact on the environment.
- Saving natural resources.
Environmental awareness is expanding among customers. Already in 2018, a survey from Nielsen showed that 73% of consumers say they would definitely change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact. In my opinion, sustainability isn’t a fashion, but a need to preserve our planet, so if it’s one of the values of your company, you can keep improving your business and make sure to communicate your actions to raise public awareness and inspire the rest of the industry. Your commitment to sustainability will benefit your market positioning, and acting with ethics and transparency will foster trust with customers.Committing to your business sustainability will benefit your market positioning, and acting with ethics and transparency will foster trust with customers. CLICK TO TWEET
How to start
To achieve a systematic and optimal improvement you need a plan. These steps can help you to create your sustainability plan:
- Analyse the current situation: mission, vision, values, stakeholders, and analysis of the environmental, social and economic aspects of the business.
- Identify improvement actions: what can be improved in the company at environmental, social and economic levels.
- Decide the priorities and develop an implementation plan: goals, persons in charge, resources and deadlines.
- Select how the evaluation and communication of the results will take place.
A sustainable business has to consider the environmental, social and economic aspects. Let’s see some specific improvement actions that you can implement in each of these areas to continue your path towards sustainability.
- Control and minimisation of resources used: deploy water-saving systems, use high-efficient equipment and low-consumption lighting, maximise the use of natural light, instal sensors to illuminate low transited areas so lights turn off automatically, choose renewable energy sources, reduce fossil fuels consumption, turn off the equipment when not in use, optimise room temperature, extend the life cycle of equipment and materials with reparations and refilling options, substitute products that use batteries for wired devices, minimise the paper consumption using digital alternatives, use sustainable paper and reuse and recycle as much as possible, reduce the raw materials consumption and select the most sustainable ones, etc.
- Compliance with environmental legislation.
- Reduction, recycling and valorisation of waste: avoid disposable products and substitute them with reusable alternatives, prioritise supplies in bulk, with less packaging and without plastic, deploy reusing initiatives, substitute individual trash bins for common bins to separate waste and easy its recycling, dispose of electronic and special waste in the correct places to allow their specific treatment, etc.
- Control and reduction of wastewater and noise: improve the internal treatment processes, select the processes with less noise production, etc.
- Control, reduction and compensation of emissions (both direct and indirect): use of proximity raw materials, promote vegetable origin food, choose a green web hosting, reduce the data stored online, implement systems to share cars or use bikes for the way to work, substitute on-site meetings for virtual events in order to avoid travels, choose facilities with bioclimatic building criteria, etc.
- Minimisation and optimisation of packaging: look for returnable options, choose biodegradable or compostable materials, design optimised formats, etc.
- Ecolabelling of products: get the most relevant labelling for your products (EU Ecolabel, EU green leaf, European energetic label, sustainable fishing MSC, sustainable forest products FSC and PEFC, for organic farming, etc.)
- Environmental training for employers: in eco-design, environmental management, life cycle assessment, circular economy, environmental impact evaluation, etc.
- Environmental certification: get the most relevant certification for your business (environmental management: ISO 14001 y EMAS, energy management: ISO 50001, eco-design management: ISO 14006, zero waste, microplastics reduction: OCS (Operation Clean Sweep), water footprint: ISO 14046, carbon footprint: 14064, environmental product declaration: ISO 14025, environmental labelling: ISO 14024, etc.)
- Prevention in occupational health and safety: establish functions and responsibilities of each employer with clarity, elaborate training and career promotion plans, place plants in the offices to improve air quality and ambience, use ergonomic office furniture, avoid noise and unpleasant odours, etc.
- Evaluation and control of labour risks: clearly signpost hazards and necessary safety measures, implement protection measures against COVID, etc.
- ISO 45001 certification (which replace OHSAS 18001).
- Employers involvement processes: suggestion box, regular follow-up meetings, etc.
- Equality in recruitment, salaries and internal promotion.
- Hiring disadvantaged groups or at risk of social exclusion.
- Measures for work-life balance: flexible time schedules, remote working options, etc.
- Analysis and improvement of client satisfaction: collect complaints and claims, perform satisfaction surveys, implement a loyalty system, etc.
- Collaboration with social projects: make donations instead of corporate gifts, participate in volunteering initiatives, implement training programs to promote social inclusion, etc.
- Hiring local and responsible providers.
- Compliance with data protection, privacy and copyright regulations: offer the necessary information, use safe systems to store data, mention the sources when using third-party content, etc.
- Compliance with legal and tax obligations.
- Good governance and transparency (ISO 19600 certification).
- Selection of responsible finance entities.
- ESG investing.
- Responsible distribution of benefits.
- Cost management and risk assessment.
- Evaluation of suppliers and subcontractors.
- Fulfilment of payment terms.
In addition, you can think about how your business could contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals:
Photo from United Nations
Evaluation and communication of the results
Regardless of the extent of your sustainability plan, it’s important to evaluate and communicate the results. If you implement a certification, the assessment and communication will form part of it, but if you apply the improvement process independently, you should select indicators for each of the adopted actions and monitor the data regularly in order to quantify the progress and adapt the implementation plan to the new situation.
Furthermore, it’s desirable that you communicate the actions and results to the stakeholders identified in the first phase, for example, in:
- Internal meetings
- Onboarding process
- Commercial communications
- Corporate web
- Social media
It’s necessary to raise awareness and engage the whole organisation in the process to optimise the results since their actions are relevant for improving the impact of the company. Therefore, it’s very important to encourage training and innovation in these areas. The improvement process should be continuous, with regular analysis of the results to steadily improving each business process.
On which priority actions for your company are you going to focus your efforts in the next months? How are you going to evaluate and communicate the improvements made and the results achieved? See you in the comments area!
If you want to improve the communication of your sustainable business, my specialised translation services can help you to connect with the Spanish audience. I look forward to working with you for achieving clear, natural and accurate content in order to expand your business into the Spanish market.
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Technical Translator specialised in Marketing, Economics and Environment. I hold an MSc. in Environmental Engineering and enjoy contributing to the expansion of sustainable businesses in the Spanish market with accurate translations, and clear and natural texts.