In an uncertain, volatile and fast-changing world, there’s no such thing as ‘business as usual’, says sustainability consultant Gill Pipkin. You could even say that if you do what you’ve always done, you might not get as much as you’ve always had.
Economic and political uncertainty, environmental and societal pressures mean there’s never been a better time to put sustainability at the heart of your business. Sustainability is about so much more than being ecofriendly. It’s about taking a whole-picture approach to how you operate, balancing economic, social and environmental factors and taking account of risk, resilience and longer term impacts, right across your business.
Adopting sustainable business practices takes in a wide range of areas, from efficient and cost-effective use of your workspace and utilities, to looking after your workforce, and procurement that takes into account, say, supply chain security.
As it’s something that’s constantly evolving, particularly on the regulatory front, a DIY approach can prove difficult to navigate. This is where an external specialist is invaluable in being able to offer guidance on the practicalities that are most appropriate, cost effective and beneficial for your business. So what can you hope to gain from putting sustainability centre-stage?
Apart from a sense of control where you know your facilities, suppliers and processes are optimised to suit your needs, getting your house in order sustainability-wise will help you weather the unforeseen and be ready to capitalise on any opportunities. Specific
benefits are many and far-reaching too, broadly-speaking:
1. COST-SAVINGS A sustainability audit will identify what you already do well and pinpoint areas for improvement. Implementing initiatives that for example, control water usage or fine-tune internal processes, will have a positive effect on your bottom line.
2. REGULATORY COMPLIANCE If you’re doing business with the public sector you’ll already be familiar with having to submit documented sustainability credentials. This directive will soon extend to large organisations in the private sector. It’s worth pointing out that compliance isn’t just restricted to the company submitting the tender – those in the supply chain also have to evidence sustainability policies.
With the international regulatory landscape moving inexorably towards mandatory submissions on carbon footprint, it’s a good time to be thinking about the sort of accreditations your business may need in order to be not just compliant, but also be able to access valuable business development opportunities. With so many options to choose from, expert advice will undoubtedly ease your regulatory journey.
3. COMMERCIAL Adhering to sustainable practices provides businesses with a purpose beyond being the profit imperative. This, in turn, can become a differentiator, something you can use to boost your PR and marketing efforts, develop new business, better attract and retain customers, and enhance your reputation as a great place to work.
Gill Pipkin is a sustainability consultant who works with organisations of all sizes, from hospital trusts to small, family-run hotels. She can carry out a review of current suppliers and/or working practices, implement cost and efficiency savings, advise on matters of compliance and governance, and identify and support you through the accreditation that will then help you access new business opportunities. Get in touch with her and discover how sustainability can help you do better in 2018.
Gill Pipkin Consulting
This article appears in the December 2017 issue of Business Cornwall magazine. To subscribe, click here.