Sustainability – Does it Pay to be Good?

I recently have had the distinct pleasure of becoming part of a group of incredible people through Sustainable Peterborough (SP).  As Business Cultivator for the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation (GPA EDC), I find myself wearing a number of hats, one of which is Co-ordinator to the SP Committee.

One of the conversations I find myself engaging in more frequently now is the benefits sustainable business practices can have on business operations.  In an attempt to speak more logically, I have spent some time researching.  Although I am by no means an expert….yet, the research I have done suggests that the answer to my title question is a resounding YES!

In the fall of 2012, a Canadian consortium of leading sustainability experts, Leapfrog Sustainability, featured on their website, a survey conducted by Accenture, a global management consulting firm.  Over 250 senior business executives worldwide were interviewed to determine the relationship between sustainable business and commercial growth.  The results were staggering.

The definition of sustainability in the survey was “‘a company’s effort to drive profitable growth while achieving a positive economic, social and environmental impact”  Something I have heard many times sitting around the table with the folks from SP.  Overall the survey revealed that 78% of businesses agreed that sustainability is vital to the future growth of their business and 83% viewed spending on sustainable initiatives as an investment rather than a cost.

Bob Willard, a leading expert on quantifying and selling the business value of corporate sustainability strategies, describes in his book “The new Sustainability Advantage” numerous benefits that companies can realize including:

  • Increasing revenue by at least 9%
  • Reducing energy expenses by at least 75%
  • Reducing waste expenses by at least 10%
  • Reducing materials and water expenses by at least 10%
  • Increasing employee productivity by at least 2%
  • Reducing hiring and attrition expenses by at least 25%
  • Reducing strategic and operational risks.

Although I am a relative “newbie” to the whole sustainability value proposition, I can’t ignore those numbers.

On January 17th, 2013, Bob Willard will be coming to the Peterborough Holiday Inn to discuss the Business Case for Sustainability.  He will be joined by a group of local businesses who will participate in a panel discussion about how sustainable business practices have enhanced their operations.  Tickets are available online or by calling Brigid Ayotte at 705-743-0777 ext. 2160