The environment is under assault in many ways, but one of the worst is the attacks on the planet at the federal level. The president of the U.S. opposes measures to stop climate change. The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is rolling back laws that protect clean air and water and limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. The head of the Interior Department, whose job it is to safeguard public lands, is looking for national monuments whose status he can revoke, and is considering turning over our national parks to private companies to run for their personal gain. You could not accuse the Trump Administration of being a sustainability leader in any stretch of the imagination.
That’s why it is heartening to see many corporations stepping up to embrace sustainability as an operating principle. James Andrews of KDA Incorporated explains in this guest op ed article why he urges his corporate clients to adopt sustainable practices: not only because it is the right thing to do but because they’ll be more successful leaders if they do.
“Protecting the planet has become more important than ever, and that’s as true for corporations as it is for the environment at large. Indeed, sustainability must form an essential part of any company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) polices. The public demands it, and a company’s profits will be strengthened because of it.
You can get a better idea of whether you, and your management team, have the required skills, by having a leadership assessment carried out. This can give you a base on which to build your success with sustainability. But first, let’s consider the many benefits of operating sustainably.
Why is sustainability important?
The simplest answer to this question is because the human race cannot continue to live on this planet without it.
Let’s just look at one example: energy.
The worldwide supply of fossil fuels is depleting, and global warming is an ever-increasing concern.
These may sound like distant issues that have little to do with your business; but in fact, energy and climate change affect every aspect of your ability to operate: the cost and delivery of the materials you buy, the impact higher energy prices have on your bottom line, even the ability to operate if a climate change-related extreme weather event occurs.
The fact is that being a good leader means that you need to be able to see this bigger picture. You can see it in two ways.
The first is by acknowledging that protecting the environment is a priority that must be addressed.
The second is by acknowledging that you have a responsibility to do your part by operating your business sustainably.
How to succeed as a leader promoting sustainability
The most important step you need to take as a business leader is embrace sustainability. You need to educate yourself about it, and believe in what you are doing.
Here are some tips to help you achieve that success:
Start with the basics. Do you recycle effectively? Are all electronic devices switched off at the end of the day? Do you have a sustainable business travel programme?
Learn about what others have done. Read case studies and use advice and techniques.
Keep well informed about developments in your industry that advance sustainability as well as achieve operational goals, and make sure your plans reflect latest opportunities to use energy and resources wisely while minimizing waste.
Lead by example. If you constantly drink bottled water, instead of using the water fountains provided, you are not setting a good example. Do not just talk about sustainability, act in a way that supports it.
Give your employees access to the advice and support they need in order to ensure that all of their work activities support sustainability.
As a leader who sees outside your own business, you must recognize how important sustainability is as a global issue.
Remember that a business which operates sustainability is increasingly what your customers and clients are clamoring for.
If you want to expand your customer base and increase sales and profits, operating sustainably is the key.”
NOTE: Guest opinions by thought leaders who support our work help us bring you different and new perspectives that help you live the greener life you want. Our editorial decisions remain our own. Thanks.