Three ways sustainability and reputation are closely linked

The world has just witnessed one of the biggest global climate strikes that took place in September, and while many tune in to the fierce words of young environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, we are left with the question: “Where does the corporate world stand in the fight against global warming?”

“It’s really not about participating in your local climate strike, or reposting video’s from famous climate speeches, it’s time to take action: it’s about implementing your company’s commitment to reducing their environmental footprint by having a strategic sustainability strategy,” says Chris Bischoff, Senior Stakeholder Liaison at reputation Matters.

With an increase in consumer awareness around all environmental issues, all companies are under the spotlight at any time. So how can companies step it up and make a sustainable difference whilst staying afloat? Bischoff weighs in on three important issues surrounding corporate sustainability and how having a strategy at the top level will improve your company’s reputation:

  1. Looking at your triple bottom line (TBL).

‘Sustainability’ is a broad term, most frequently used in the context of ‘environmental sustainability’ and equally ‘financial sustainability’. TBL connects people, planet and profit; to hold companies accountable across all spheres, not just their bottom line. “A company’s reputation is now directly influenced by its financial performance, commitment to reducing environmental footprint and its investment in society; three business aspects that have become a measure of reputation,” adds Bischoff.

“In the investment landscape, investors directly look at TBL through a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors,” says Bischoff. Known as ESG investing, investors are not just concerned about your financial turnover potential, but also your social and environmental sustainability. Therefore, having a good reputation across all three spheres will increase your investment potential.

  1. Achieving a sustainable chain supply

It is important to have a look at what your suppliers and business partners are doing to prioritise their sustainability. Your company may have a great plan to reduce their environmental footprint, but your effort can quickly be undone by partners and suppliers who don’t. Consumer are not just looking at you, they are also looking at who you are aligned and doing business with.

  1. Becoming a benchmark brand

“If I think of a benchmark brand as the advocate for corporate environmental sustainability, the first company that comes to mind is Patagonia, the outdoor gear and clothing company that is making waves for its activism for environmental conservation,” say Bischoff. Its founder Yvon Chouinard announced the company’s new mission statement last year: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” How’s that for a mission statement of a company that has an annual revenue approaching $1bn? It goes to show that consumers support businesses that support a clean and healthy environment.

Have you ever measured how sustainable your business is perceived to be, and how this influences your reputation? Reputation Matters has developed a research tool, the Sustainability Check to measure the collective perception of how sustainable a business is operating; as this has a big influence on your reputation. “Not only do we measure sustainability, but we also provide recommendations and implementation plans to take your organisation’s sustainability and strategy to the next level,” concludes Bischoff.

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