Every year, more consumers expect sustainability efforts from businesses. Today, two-thirds of buyers would pay more for climate-considerate products and services.
But smaller companies might struggle to integrate sustainability — they may not know how to protect their bottom line while caring for the environment. After all, isn’t there a trade-off between sustainability and profitability? Not necessarily.
Trends sought out expertise from three climate-driven consultants to help address this common misconception. Social entrepreneurs Martin Skea, Matt Dundas, and Verineia Codrean discussed how organizations of any size can do well by doing good — including three takeaways for entrepreneurs.
Join Trends to connect with this panel and access thousands of vetted business ideas.
1. Learn and incorporate climate intelligence
Climate intelligence is the knowledge required to avoid and mitigate effects from major, climate-related catastrophes. This means understanding basic climate models, applying them to your organization, and building processes that consider sustainability.
Entrepreneurs with climate intelligence can better prepare themselves for natural disasters, such as shifting weather patterns and massive migrations, and make their ventures resilient.
Climate intelligence centers on three activities:
- Reducing your carbon footprint (e.g., using less energy or resources)
- Adapting to effects of climate change (e.g., preparing for the migration of refugees in your community)
- Reducing carbon and methane emissions (e.g., investing or building carbon dioxide technologies)
You might already have a successful business. But, if it operates in an unhealthy, unsustainable environment, it will not thrive in the long term. Climate intelligence enables organizations to have a shot at existing not only tomorrow but also twenty years from now.
To better understand climate intelligence, figure out how its three prongs relate to your business. In other words, how can your business reduce its waste, or, alternatively, what ways will climate change impact your company?
2. Consider getting a B Corp Certification
Many corporations talk a big game about sustainability without actions to back it up. Organizations of any size can benefit from getting a B Corp Certification, as it puts a stamp on your commitment to social responsibility.
B Lab launched the certification in 2006 as a way to verify an organization’s commitment to stakeholders, not just shareholders. This means considering how an expansion, for example, would impact the environment, communities, and other stakeholders.
Aside from proving your sustainability commitment, a B Corp Certification opens up your business to greater investment opportunities. In particular, social impact investors use B Corp Certification as an investing tool. It opens your organization up for greater publicity and other opportunities.
3. Make small changes to better support communities
Many entrepreneurs might wonder: Why should businesses spend money on sustainability efforts? But organizations can integrate sustainability by making small, affordable, and often cost-effective changes.
Consider the following examples from Dundas, who works in real estate development. His team decided to use stone countertops instead of a cheaper material, which initially cost more. However, in the long run, both sides benefited. Dundas got to save on maintenance costs and his residents benefited from a higher-quality kitchen.
Dundas’ team also made a big impact on a community with a small investment. They decided to bring in a nonprofit to manage toilets and showers at a new retail shopping center. For a small fee, the homeless population in the area could use the facility. Dedicating a small area in a shopping center enabled Dundas to enrich the community without breaking the bank.
Your organization can follow suit. Consider small but impactful ways your business can better serve your community.