As sustainability consultants, we’ve heard all the excuses and misconceptions about sustainability. Are sustainable business solutions good for business and the bottom line? Can any consulting firm support with corporate sustainability initiatives? Isn’t corporate responsibility and sustainability just a PR stunt? Below, we debunk the most common corporate sustainability myths.
- Sustainability costs money
Our sustainability consulting clients find that sustainable business practices are good for business and reducing energy, water, and resources can help reduce expenses and costs. Investing in sustainability has also shown that employees are more engaged, creating a 22% increase in profitability and a 21% increase in productivity.
- Investors don’t care
Companies that are part of the Carbon Disclosure Project show an 18% higher return on equity over peers, and sustainable businesses see 50% less volatility in earnings than low-ranking peers. Over 525 institutional investors are part of the Carbon Disclosure Project, with other $100 trillion in assets held. In fact, 75% of senior executives in investment firms see a company’s sustainability performance as important to their investment decisions, and 50% would not invest in a company with a poor sustainability reputation.
- Consumers say they want it but won’t pay for it
66% of global consumers and 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainability products. Consumers are willing to pay the highest premium for green packaging, up to a 25% price hike, with one caveat: sustainability claims on packaging must reflect the company’s internal practices. Perhaps the biggest effect, however, is that consumers are choosing not to support companies that don’t show a commitment to sustainable practices and green business initiatives.
- Employees don’t care about sustainable business
Studies have shown that employees are more engaged, productive, and more loyal to companies that invest in sustainability. This is especially true of millennials and Gen Y, as 86% would consider leaving a job if their employer’s CSR performance no longer held up, and 50% of respondents reporting that they’d choose a position at a responsible company, even with a 15% pay cut. Employees the general public are demanding radical transparency and want businesses to be doing their part.
- Sustainability is “nice to have” but not essential
In the recent UN Global Compact Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, 93% of CEOs agreed that sustainability was important to the future of their business, and 84% believed their business should lead efforts to define and deliver sustainability goals. Business sustainability is essential for long-term prosperity because of increasing radical sustainability reporting transparency, increasing consumer awareness, and the simple math that sustainable practices are an investment in the future.
- Business has nothing to do with environmental sustainability
Every company has a connection to the environment, and any business consultant will tell you that can’t profit without a planet. Destroying the environment comes with severe financial costs, and it is in the best interest of every corporation to preserve resources and the environment through business sustainability strategies.
- Nobody needs our sustainability reports and communication
82% of consumers said that they would always pick a brand with a better record of sustainability, and in order to learn about your sustainability initiatives, you need to be able to communicate them through sustainability reports and corporate responsibility stories! Beyond consumer preferences, sustainability reporting helps you understand your organization’s sustainability risks and opportunities, create a long-term management strategy for reaching your sustainability goals, compare your environmental performance, and avoid a public relations disaster.
- Government intervention is more important than corporate responsibility
At its best, corporate sustainability and government environmental intervention should be complementary, but both are essential for the dramatic green business changes we need to stop climate change. Under the current administration, the US government has exited from the Paris Accords with over 84 environmental regulations on the way out. Corporations and local initiatives need to pick up the slack through corporate responsibility.
- Setting sustainability goals, mission, and values are a waste of time
Establishing your corporate sustainability goals and mission is essential to develop your North Star and identify actionable steps to achieve your goals in both the short and long-term. From here, we can develop a strategic sustainability plan to set you up for success.
- Any consulting firm can support with corporate sustainability
The industry is extremely niche and few large organizations have the resources or knowledge for strategic sustainability consulting services including materiality assessments, external sustainability reporting, greenhouse gas inventories, and strategic sustainability planning. Top sustainability consulting firms like Sustainable Business Consulting are often small, have decades of experience in the industry, and are considered sustainability experts.
- Training all employees is too expensive and will take too long
Sustainability training and capacity building is essential for employee engagement and ensure that your sustainability practices are incorporated throughout your company and brand, not just an add-on in your corporate social responsibility report.
- Everyone understands “my definition” of sustainability
As sustainable business consultants, we first work with each company to first identify their sustainability definition and the scope of their corporate responsibility initiatives in order to determine next steps. By first establishing your sustainability definition, you can look forward and future proof your brand.
- Tackling the supply chain is too tough
Tracking and assessing your supply chain can seem like a daunting process, but through a sustainability audit we can quickly identify the gaps in data and create a story-mining and data collection process. The best sustainability consulting firms will provide you the tools for this process to make sure you can replicate these results on your own.
- Greening our business won’t make a real climate change difference
Through green business consulting, we’ve helped clients make dramatic commitments that are changing what corporate sustainability means, including net zero waste and emissions, and carbon neutrality. Over 70% of global emissions are attributable to corporations, showing a clear need for companies to step up to address the climate crisis.
- Corporate sustainability is a passing trend
Sustainable business isn’t a fad: it’s the new way to do business. If you’re looking to protect your brand in the future, you should find a corporate sustainability consulting partner to make sure you’re doing your part to preserve the environment before it’s too late.