What Are The Main Drivers To Your Organization’s Sustainability Initiative?
Understanding the different pressures a brand faces is key to prioritizing efforts.
There are at least six forces that impact a brand’s sustainability decisions:
Employees prefer Purpose + Sustainability:
Pre-COVID, “the average length of stay for full-time employment was 3.5 years and decreasing.” What makes employees stick? Having a brand Purpose and sustainability strategy can help.
According to a 2019 survey by Porter Novelli Cone 70% of Americans want to work for a Purpose-driven brand.
A 2019 survey by McKinsey found that 82% of employees feel that it is important for their company to have a Purpose, and that 72% said that Purpose should receive more weight than profit.
Other surveys have found that 75% of Millennial workers would accept a smaller salary to work for a company that’s environmentally responsible, 70% said that they were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda and 30% said that they’ve left a job in the past because of the company’s lack of a sustainability plan.
of American's want to work for a Purpose-driven brand.
of employees feel it is important for their company to have a Purpose.
of Millennials would accept a smaller salary to be environmentally responsible.
Consumers reward authenticity and transparency: Increasingly, consumers are putting their dollars where their values are, and those values include environmental and social considerations. Seeking certifications with organizations like B Corp, 1% for the Planet, Climate Neutral, and other well-known and well-respected third party certifiers demonstrates authenticity and transparency to your community. Publishing an annual Impact Report is another way to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.
Investors are investing in sustainability: According to the US SIF Foundation, a growing body of academic research shows a strong link between ESG and financial performance.
Their report on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing Trends in the U.S. found that more than $12 trillion investment dollars were in sustainable strategies in 2017. With nearly a quarter of all professionally managed funds in the U.S. being directed towards investments that are environmentally and socially responsible, it’s no surprise that more and more companies are starting to track, measure, and report on their corporate, social, environmental, and governance activities.
As of July 2020, ESG fund flows have already matched 2019’s annual record of $21.4 billion, according to Morningstar.
Retailers are increasingly calling the product sustainability shots. If your brand sells product at REI, then you are already familiar with the Co-op’s Product Sustainability Standards. Other retailers have their own supplier/vendor sustainability standards including Walmart and Target Online retailers curating only the cleanest and greenest products (think Thrive Market, Grove Collaborative and Credo Beauty) are gaining traction in the space. These companies have some of the strictest standards for the brands they work with. Packaging, single-use plastics and non-toxic ingredients top the list of focus areas for these sustainably-minded retailers.
Pay attention to policy:
From Climate Action and Extended Producer Responsibility to plastic packaging, policymakers across the world are seeking to reduce the impacts that businesses have on the environment. The European Union approved its Single-Use Plastics Directive in May 2019, and here in the U.S.,the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act was introduced at the federal level in February 2020 to tackle the plastic pollution crisis called. California has proposed companion bills AB 1080 and SB 54, known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which set aggressive packaging and plastic waste reduction targets for companies in the coming years. Staying ahead of the rapidly evolving packaging policy landscape will help your organization respond swiftly and nimbly.
Many brands are joining forces to tackle some of the more complex environmental issues facing their industries. The Outdoor Industry Association launched
the Climate Action Corps and SIMA started their Poly Bag Program. If you are in the Natural Products industry, the Sustainable Food Trade Association and Climate Collaborative are excellent resources providing industry-specific tools and resources to track your impact and track policy measures that support sustainable business practices. Get involved and get engaged to amplify the benefits of trade working together.
The driving forces behind your company’s sustainability initiative likely include some, if not all, of the pressures listed above. Being forward thinking in your approach to sustainability by considering the current and future impacts of these forces can help you prioritize your response and even give you a competitive advantage.
Our team at Planet+Purpose Solutions is dedicated to helping organizations launch their sustainability initiatives and coaching leaders into becoming champions of change. We all need to work together to tackle our collective environmental impact and our team hopes this series of articles will help with those first critical steps of your organization’s journey.