Are sustainable businesses more profitable? There is a common misperception that investing resources into ethical and sustainability projects results in lost time and profits, with attention diverted from core business practices.

This is a misperception, according to a number of studies and reports. In fact, there is good evidence that suggests sustainable businesses are more profitable.

“… corporations that are actively managing and planning for climate change secure an 18% higher return on investment (ROI) than companies that aren’t – and 67% higher than companies who refuse to disclose their emissions. The findings could help answer the long-debated industry question of whether sustainability undermines or improves financial results.” The Guardian

David Semerad, Forbes.com says “Today’s focus needs to be on sustainability, the idea of putting into place long-term, sustainable practices that will help alleviate further damage to the planet. From a business perspective, sustainability shouldn’t just be another progressive marketing strategy but a rallying cry that more and more companies, big and small, need to get behind if large scale change is to be effective.”

David continues, “Facebook’s cool data center 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden may also not be within the parameters of your budget, but emulating these international giants, shouldn’t be your endgame. I recommend starting small: recycle your waste, use tap water instead of bottles, take advantage of natural light in office spaces. How many of these things do you already do? Now imagine if you were continuously thinking of new ways to expand your sustainability goals…. Sustainability is more than just a shrewd business move that companies can promote on their websites and in their marketing literature, among other avenues. It is an important issue for all of us as human being and stewards of this world.”

“When the Boston Consulting Group joined forces with the World Economic Forum to identify companies with the most effective sustainability practices in the developing world. The study involved reviews of more than 1,000 companies ranging in size from $25 million to $5 billion, from a wide array of markets and industry sectors, and included interviews with almost 200 executives. From the pool of companies studied, we identified more than a dozen “champions,” whose sustainability practices were highly effective, innovative, and scalable. These organizations are located in countries across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the South Pacific. Some pursue sustainability out of pragmatism, some out of idealism. But regardless of their motivation, they have consistently generated above-average growth rates and profit margins.” Harvard Business Review

The trick, it appears, is to think smart and start small… sustainability can increase the profitability of your business, from both a financial and ethical perspective. Endeavour to position this thinking at the heart of your strategy and the rewards will come.

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