Usually when organizations that have been operating under the “Business As Usual” mantra for so long, they get completely overwhelmed when hearing this word “Sustainability” or “Your organization needs to become more sustainable.” So focused on making their monthly and quarterly goals, anything that seems to be not aligned with their basic survival is excess.
Thinking they need to start a composting station in the back of their offices, switch to solar panels, or begin working half the day in the dark they dismiss the idea quickly and easily. While these are great way’s of flexing your sustainability muscles (well except for that working in the dark one, i’m not sure who that would helps),Your actions don’t have to be so extreme to have a major impact on your environment, and to see those practices help grow your business, and your profits.
Sustainability literally means ” The capacity to endure” Who doesn’t want that for their business?
More Pointedly it means: For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions.
Yea, Yea this all sounds like things we all want, and need. So why is this concept still sequestered mainly towards special interest groups. All business and organizations with the goal of survival and longevity need to be thinking in these terms primarily.
This is not neuroscience. This is not conspiracy theory. This is fact. This is reality. This is your reality.
Don’t know where to begin when it comes to your business? That’s ok, I’m here to help.
I’m going to start off by giving you 3 easy ways get your company operating in a more “sustainable” manner.
1.) People. People. People. People are the most important part of any business, whether you have a clothing boutique, you build houses, design stuff, a restauranteur or you run a cupcake shop. You need people. You need people for customers, and you need killer employees.
My motto for philanthropy and social responsibility is the same as it is for maintaing sustainable people practices in your business. Don’t just give, invest. This motto follows along the same lines as that popular quote “Give a person a fish, he eats for a day, But teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Invest in your people. Give customers quality that will ignite brand loyalty. Customers love to see your focus on the service or product you provide is soo authentic and quality assured. Not only are they hooked for life on your product or service, they also rave about you to all their friends. Let me tell you , word of mouth advertising can be more powerful than the best ad-campaigns money can buy.
Not only is it important to make your customers feel like partners in your succuess, it is equally, if not more important to give your employees that same experience. From the Fed ex man that delivers your packages to your General manger or CEO everyone needs to feel apart of your movement. Connected. United.
In order to accomplish this many organizations provide ownership shares in stock of the company, or a policy of only promoting from within. How you treat your employees, Knowing their names , their interest aside from working you , their needs, is in direct correlation to the amount of devotion and level of care they put into their work for you. You are all partners with a common goal. You, your employees, and your customers are the secret code to unlocking success for all involved.
2.) Planet! This is the one that usually sends people in a tizzy. Global warming, holes in the ozone, and Energy and fuel crisis seems so far away from the direct needs and issues of your organization that you chalk it up to being someone else’s problem. Rationalizing this detachment with the notion that your just trying to feed your family, get your kids through college and make payroll this month so your employees can do the same.
But the raw truth of it is this. There is an increasing growing amount of waste we are accumulating all over the world. Materials that in many cases are even toxic. That are just sitting in our oceans, contaminating the food that we eat, the water we (need) drink, and the air we breathe. This is not conspiracy, this is real, and its killing us, and our future generations, kids, grandkids.
But don’t fret there are a million little things we can do Now that help curb these looming problems. Simple things like using one glass for drinking water, instead of taking multiple plastic cups from the water dispenser, saves plastic and money. Trying not to print out email and other documents (unless it is totally unavoidable) saves paper and ink – and, again, saves money.Turning off lights, shutting down your computer and turning off the monitor properly. By looking at this model below, you can see just how your actions affect future generations.
Seeing the longterm effects your subtle actions of today have, start making small changes in you business, get employees involved, and incorporate it into your culture. Let your customers know what your up to! Don’t be preachy and outrageous, just caring and compassionate, and guaranteed they’ll be down for the cause. They’ll also be proud to support your business and organization.
True this is the simplest approach on sustainability when it affects our planet. Take it one step further by analyzing your supply chain. Where are you getting your raw materials? How are they being shipped? Is their a local option? Is there an option that uses less, or bio fuels to get it to you? How are you invested in the community in which you materials come? The basics of all this “sustainability” is caring, and simply seeing how things can be done better, more innovative, more efficient. These are actually the basics of business as well. Hmmmm interesting.
3.)Lastly but definitely not least important is Community- In the categories above we’ve also mentioned how they directly affect your community.
Community is important, because your business existence is only viable if it indeed has customers, the revolving factor around all three of these categories. However, more than just engaging your community of customers, what about the community around you?
I was in Barcelona a few weeks ago, and in the square right outside of my apartment was a restaurant, which had really great service, great food that you could tell they put that hint of extra effort into. You could see it, and taste it. The servers were very attentive which isn’t so very common in Barcelona and even ventured into a spanglish dialogue with me that created a fun and unique bond during my stay as neighbors. They had lovely blown up photos on the walls of (as i noticed while eating) some members of their staff with older men and women from the community. It was beautiful.
Turns out the restaurant had an employee program for young adult and teen expats to learn the restaurant business, gain skills therein, as well as work with older folks of the community as part of a mentorship program. This is what you call totally sustainable. Running a restaurant with great food, employing young expats who may otherwise have a hard time assimilating into a new culture, Teaching them skills they can use for a lifetime, and engaging them with older men and women of the community to increase their empathy as well as allow them to learn from the generation before them of a different culture. It was beautiful, and a great business model, might I add, where everyone wins! Did I mention the offered free wifi to customers. They were busy every night.
This restuarant birthed a future generation of chefs, possibly restaurant owners, provided hope for a community of young people that had the potential to be otherwise lost in street life, or becoming young parents increasing population in an over-populated world. Because Hope is the best anti-drug, as well as the best contraception.
There are many ways you can engage your community, and use your business to invest into the future of it. The impact it will have on you, your customers, and your employees will be priceless.