Sustainability: From nice-to-have to mandatory program - why companies have to act now

Source of the picture: SDGs: Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen eV

10 reasons why sustainability is not a chore, but a free choice

1. Customers expect companies to be more sustainable

The market research institute Rothmund Insights published the study "Focus on Sustainability" in 2021. This examined the motives, behavior and desires of consumers on the subject of sustainability and sustainable products. Conclusion: "The vast majority of consumers (89%) would like companies to operate in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner in the future. At the same time, the number of consumers who are willing to forego a bit of comfort in favor of a more sustainable life and if necessary to pay a little more for sustainable offers is increasing. Currently, this target group of "active sustainability-conscious" already accounts for 42 percent of all consumers in Germany - and the trend is rising. The corona crisis has further intensified this development. For companies, this results in numerous new potentials; at the same time new requirements for product development and communication".

2. Customers accept price increases

Sustainable management and the associated price increases are accepted by customers and other stakeholders. Prerequisite: Companies must demonstrate transparently and clearly that careful use of resources, environmental protection and fair working conditions are guaranteed.

3. Trust and credibility strengthen customer loyalty

The promise of sustainability and everything that goes with it can be redeemed by companies, because sustainability can be proven through certificates and documented in figures. If the evidence is provided regularly and without being asked, this strengthens the credibility of a company. With the basis of trust created in this way, customer loyalty is also increased.

4. Sustainable action is a corporate benefit

Commitment to sustainability is a suitable marketing tool. Those who act beyond the legal requirements can peddle them: those who clearly commit themselves to recognized values and also live them can count on a bonus in the recognition. Especially for companies and industries that have led a shadowy existence or had to struggle with a bad image, proven ambition in sustainability can provide many bonus points in the favor of stakeholders. But beware: Sustainability is a philosophy that must be lived holistically. Superficial, superficial "greenwashing" for marketing purposes is increasingly seen through and can ensure that credibility is irrevocably lost.

5. Save resources, reduce costs!

Sustainable actions extend across all processes and services of a company. Changing the electricity provider alone is not enough. Everything that is used and consumed in the company has to be put to the test - from energy to paper to company cars. That's laborious. In the end, however, there is usually a clear realization: the conscious use of resources reduces costs and at least to the same extent increases the good conscience of having made an important contribution to achieving the climate goals.

6. Solidarity instead of egoism makes people likeable

Sustainability is already no longer a nice-to-have option, but an unavoidable obligation that is already enshrined in law in many areas. However, companies that are consistently strong in the area of sustainability show, far from this obligation, that they have understood the signs of the times and are proactively committed to the well-being of future generations - instead of focusing exclusively on economic growth with a view to shareholder value. The company is revalued and gains favor with (share) buyers.

7. Sustainability avoids vulnerability

In times of digitization, behavior that is harmful to the environment cannot be kept secret for long. Companies that support or condone poor production, transport or working conditions must expect that this will be known to all sections of the population very quickly and will be punished immediately. Anyone who would rather avoid an uncatchable shitstorm than fight it out is therefore advised to make sustainability - and this also includes dealing with their own employees worldwide - a top priority.

8. Stakeholders become brand ambassadors

If ethical correctness and resource-saving handling are anchored in a corporate philosophy and lived in practice, then stakeholders increasingly become brand ambassadors who pass on the good feeling in dealing with the company. In times when sustainable commitment has not yet penetrated all companies, a lead in this area can also be a competitive advantage.

9. Attract employees and retain them in the long term

Qualified specialists and executives are rare. Younger employees in particular appreciate an employer who consistently acts in a sustainable manner and is committed to the conscious use of resources and values. Instead of big company cars and even bigger bonus payments, young people in business life are increasingly looking for a good work-life balance and exemplary behavior from their employer: the good feeling of working together as equals and ecologically and socially correct structures can be unbeatable advantages in the competition for talent.

10. Acting with foresight today avoids expensive repairs tomorrow

The legislature is tightening the thumbscrews. Sustainable management and proof of this is becoming increasingly mandatory. The requirements are increasing on many levels, also with regard to the specifications, for example in the area of emissions. Anyone who is already one step ahead of the current specifications saves themselves the need for short-term, often complex and therefore expensive retrofitting.