That’s what our Environment Annual is all about – inspiring Canadian businesses to make environmentally-responsible decisions. We won’t necessarily save the world in a single issue, but we hope we can inspire you, and other business leaders, to think green.
The Business Model for the 21st Century
The evolution from environment issues to a more global concept of sustainability.
Interbrand recently released their Best Global Green Brands report, examining the gap that exists between a brand’s environmental performance and consumers’ perceptions of that performance.
The company made an important comment in their report: “Today, consumers hold the world’s leading brands to an extremely high standard and expect such brands to act responsibly.”
This statement sums up the prevailing attitude of consumers, who are no longer content with companies slapping a “green” moniker onto a product so as to appeal to the environmentally-conscious masses. The market has evolved, and today’s consumers are looking more and more at the bigger picture – sustainability.
The bigger picture
The concept of business sustainability refers to business models whose managerial decisions are grounded in environmental, social and financial concerns. These three elements are intimately connected.
While sustainable companies know how their actions affect the environment and actively work to reduce their impact, they also care about their employees, customers and communities, and work to make positive social change. In addition, they make sure their decisions create longterm financial value.
Compared to companies that focus strictly on short-term profits and make decisions based solely on the bottom line, sustainable companies have a broader approach that incorporates social concerns as well as the financial performance.
The value of sustainability has been analyzed from every perspective—revenues, profits, and share prices—and it is now clear that sustainability not only makes sense, but is also profitable.
Every year, the Network for Business Sustainability brings together Canadian companies that are leaders in sustainable business practices. But while discussions in former years have focused on issues classically associated with the environment, this year they concentrated on activities beyond the organization. Social concerns seem to be more important than ever.
These business leaders believe that the future of sustainable business is based on long-term cooperation that redefines their relationships with competitors, suppliers, the public, and even environmental activists.
As a result, companies that forge strong connections with employees, customers and communities are better able to weather the storms of economic downturns and other uncertainties such as worker strikes, executive scandals and boycotts by environmentalists.
It’s clear that our world is changing, as is the way we all do business. The 21st century will reveal a new paradigm in which business is no longer separate from society. Instead, the new normal will be a “business-as-society” paradigm wherein businesses will be expected to work synergistically for the betterment of all.
The organizations that will shape the modern business landscape are those that will make responsible business decisions with the three pillars of sustainability in mind: environment, society and profitability.
The bigger picture of sustainability is here to stay. Done right, both business and society can benefit in respect to the environment.