Business briefing note: sustainability

Published: 20 Sep 2023

The news is full of stories on extreme weather events, with heatwaves and ensuing wildfires across Southern Europe this summer. This is really bringing the reality of the global climate crisis much closer to home than ever before.

“Companies that embed an environmental agenda at their core are more profitable, and save money in the long run, offering a win-win for businesses and the environment”. So says Olga Munroe, Head of the Retail Institute at Leeds Beckett University, and author of our latest Business Briefing Note, which is on Sustainability.

Olga provides strategic direction for the Retail Institute and creates a knowledge exchange platform providing support to industry partners, trade organisations and fellow academic institutions. She works with global businesses in retail supply chain: retailers, brand owners and packaging manufacturers – companies like Nestle, BASF, ASDA, Coveris – and many more.

Future proofing your business

In her Business Briefing note specifically written for our members, Olga outlines the nature of the environmental crisis facing us and highlights the importance of ensuring your business is future proofed and remains competitive.

Including a quick guide to global treaties and initiatives, the names of which are frequently bandied about in the media, the Briefing points out that taking positive steps to making your business sustainable is important to enhance your corporate reputation with your clients, it puts you in the best position for upcoming legislative changes and will help you to attract the best young talent and develop new competencies too.

Profit, Planet, People

Often criticised for being a costly add-on, sustainability should sit at the heart of a business, regardless of its size. SME’s are agile and resilient, which means they are well-placed to switch to more sustainable practices. The SME community represents 99.3% of total businesses in the UK, 60% of the employment market and 52% of revenue, so this sector is of particular importance.

The 3Ps of Profit, Planet, People is a framework developed by John Elkington, which looks to examine a company’s social, environmental and economic impact. When it comes to the P for Profit, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals have been estimated to generate 12 trillion dollars’ worth of business opportunities a year by 2030. Embracing sustainability can set you apart from your competitors. By offering your customers choice by embedding sustainable practices, you can help them achieve their own Net Zero targets too.

The Briefing Note concludes with a call to action to business leaders to set sustainable targets and embed environmental principles in order to keep your business sustainable, profitable and competitive.

With lots of links to resources for further reading that can help inform your business strategy and build a better business, you can find the Sustainability Business Briefing Note here