A corporation’s decisions regarding sustainability impact both their brand and their bottom line. There are direct and indirect strategic reasons for a corporation to “go green.”
The global ecosystem has been threatened which makes reducing waste and increasing energy efficiency more and more important. Corporations can conserve by cutting down on packaging, using energy-efficient lighting, recycling, purchasing energy-efficient office equipment, and adapting to alternative heating and cooling solutions. Many companies are warming up to the idea of working in LEED Certified buildings. “LEED is an internationally recognized green building program. It provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions” (https://new.usgbc.org/leed). A 2011 study released by MIT found that sustainability is now a permanent part of 70% of the corporate agenda (www.earthshare.org).
Interbrand released their 2012 annual Best Global Green Brands report, and automotive and technology companies dominated the list. Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, and Honda were the top three players. This report “… examines the gap that exists between corporate environmental practices and consumer perception of those practices…” (www.interbrand.com). Reports like this not only strengthen a brand, but also encourage and challenge corporations to further develop new energy-efficient practices.
As more and more companies realize the financial benefits of “going green,” they also recognize the positive way that this strategy impact their customers, employees, and overall image. A positive environmental message attracts superior associates, creating a healthier, safer, more team-oriented work environment. 92% of young professionals would be more inclined to work for environmentally-friendly companies (www.earthshare.org). Many employers offer team members the option to work remotely which saves in vehicle maintenance, gas, and parking costs and may also relieve external family pressure and stress. These factors, not only, cut overhead expenses, but also increase employee efficiency and overall morale.
A modern family tends to be more environmentally conscious than those from past generations. Recycling and reducing waste have become commonplace practices. A focus on sustainability attracts and engages customers and is a brand-strengthening asset. 35% of consumers are willing to spend more for green products as long as the product is comparable or better than the competitor’s product (www.earthshare.org). “Going green” also tends to attract investors and can create a positive media buzz. It is important, however, that a corporation does not misuse this asset. “… A brand’s efforts in this area could serve as an under-utilized asset, or conversely, suffer due to accusations of ‘greenwashing’” (www.interbrand.com).
It is clear that businesses no longer believe that “going green” is a fad. Consumers demand green alternatives and illustrate this through their spending patterns. The focus should always remain on the bottom line, but attention to sustainability has proven to be a way to positively impact these figures.