Why invest time and money in sustainability standards?
There are many sustainability standards and they are growing in popularity. Some are very well established, like ISO14001, whilst others are newer and are targeting specific niches such as SMEs. They can be broadly grouped into four areas: Environmental Management, Energy and Carbon Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Life Cycle Assessment. I’ll go into more detail on these in my next blog, but first I wanted to explore how sustainability standards could benefit a business and why many organisations are choosing to invest time and money in achieving them.
So why invest time and money in a sustainability standard?
Like a lot of standards, those in the sustainability area provide two key benefits: the very practical benefit of improving a company’s operation, and the marketing benefit of improving business image.
Promoting best practice and ensuring compliance
Standards introduce a controlled and repeatable process encouraging best practice – which can in turn increase efficiency and save money. Implementation improves the operations of a business by integrating and embedding sustainability considerations into everyday duties, across a range of areas from environmental best practice to carbon and energy management to corporate social responsibility.
They are becoming increasingly more accessible for all sizes of organisation, meaning the benefits previously experienced by larger organisations can give smaller ones a head start. Standards can help a business monitor and meet obligations and regulations, which will only become more stringent in coming years as sustainability legislation increased.
Demonstrate commitment and ethics
As well as providing a practical tool to improve performance, standards can be used as an important marketing strategy to gain PR and prestige. Related to this is that achieving a standard is a great story for your people and will help motivate and retain staff.
Standards also introduce a level of comparability to businesses who implement them. A standard provides a uniform measure to compare companies like for like, and demonstrates how well a company is performing against its competitors and validates best practice claims. This can be extremely useful for businesses to attract clients by proving they are market leaders and have a progressive attitude towards business development.
For many companies, the pressing reason to consider adopting a standard is the increasing demand in tender and procurement situations for suppliers to demonstrate their sustainability.
So if you want to sell successfully to large companies, public sector or third sector bodies, there are many reasons to consider a sustainability standard.
Next month I will give you a brief overview of some of the key standards and how they might be appropriate for your business, and the benefits they can entail.