Benefits of Integrating Sustainability into Your Corporate Strategy

An overview of some of the short-term and long-term effects of corporate sustainability.

by Jenny Holt, April 20, 2017

Corporate sustainability represents a corporate identity's enthusiasm to emphasize the value of environmental preservation, renewable energy sources, and sustainable business practices that preserve human and ecological rights.

Management now needs to balance increased regulation coming from environmental agencies, while simultaneously protecting the brand and ensuring viable supply chains for enhanced performance. When sustainability is done strategically, you can maintain corporate responsibility, while simultaneously lowering operational costs and keeping shareholders satisfied.

Here are some of the short-term and long-term effects of corporate sustainability.

Lower Operating Costs

Corporate entities experienced a net positive when investing in energy sufficiency. For example, Intercontinental Hotels, an international British hotel company, were able to shave off thousands of dollars a month by micromanaging power levels during peak hours by installing efficient energy banks, and using a series of energy storage systems linked via an intranet.

Power demands can be particularly high during hot summers, with utility companies up-charging during these peak times to make a profit. Lithium batteries reduce operational costs by storing energy during off-peak hours, and employing the saved energy during more expensive times of the day.

It goes beyond the hospitality industry, with even sustainability efforts finding their way in industrial identities like Fujitsu. This company has introduced sustainability into their supply chain operations, with a sustainability program to offset pollution and electrical inefficiency.

Fujitsu addressed this incompetence with a framework that helps customers intuitively assess the environmental impact of daily operations stemming from their data centers. This assessment allows management to quickly tap into power usage, equipping directors with the tools to conceptualize greenhouse gas emissions and pollution without additional expenditure.

Younger Generations and Sustainability

Millennials are a driving force when it comes to corporate social responsibility. In 2015, about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies published a series of sustainability reports – which increased 20 percent from 2011. Corporate identities need to be aware of millennials, as they will constitute a quarter of the American workforce and a third of the total retail sales by 2020.

These numbers will only increase, with younger generations pushing companies to be more aware of their social and environmental impact. Corporate identities that not only want to survive but to prosper in the long term will need to be cognizant of the unique definition that millennials have attached to "corporate responsibility", as it influences not only their buying behavior, but also their employment decisions.

Sustainability and Employment Opportunities

One form of sustainability that has been gaining attention at the corporate and workforce level, is the implementation of solar energy and its ability to jump-start the economy. In 2016, the solar industry employed more than 260,000 workers – a 25 percent increase from 2015. In fact, the solar industry and job employment seem to be inextricably linked; there is a correlation between the cost of solar panels and job employment, since the lower cost of panels has increased consumer demands.

Solar energy has doubled in the past several years, with younger generations inadvertently pushing for their usage. Companies need to understand that solar power - and the breadth of their sustainability programs - are aspects of their identity that the younger generation is craving and will scrutinize.