Sustainability in business can have a wider focus for strategic planning, according to a survey published this week.
The first annual Business to Society survey sought to identify current attitudes among both business leaders and consumers around the roles companies should play in environmental and social arenas.
In what could be seen as a significant shift, the survey finds that found that just over half (57%) of business leaders feel that their companies should be engaging more in tackling social issues.
That figure is only slightly less than the numbers of consumers polled who feel that more business social and environmental activity is needed (63%).
However, when younger business leaders were asked the same question, 82% of those under 35 said companies should do more.
Tackling environmental issues scored well on the engagement agenda, with 63% overall of business leaders feeling that their companies should be active. As part of any sustainability strategy, the focus on green activity that has a measurable effect and business benefit is crucial.
However, only 21% of business leaders said their companies had planned to implement measures around social or environmental issues over the coming year.
That’s why we advise companies to seek out the most effective solutions first and these are pretty straightforward means to reduce consumption of energy and water, being efficient and at the same time cutting CO2 emissions.
From LED lighting that reduces energy use by up to 85%, to water-saving eco-showers, eco taps and tap aerators, and smart heating and lighting controls, the effects on both the company carbon footprint and the bottom line are immediate – and accumulative.
The survey also helps to illuminate the wider context, revealing the other main issues apart from eco activity that business leaders believe they should be involved with. Top of the list is helping people into employment (80%) and supporting local communities (71%).
The least popular issues are reducing loneliness (25%), tackling homelessness (25%) and providing better care for older people (28%)
The survey says:
Consumer demand is playing a role in creating incentives for businesses to get more involved in social and environmental issues, and that such involvement can generate commercial benefit:
• 64% of consumers think businesses should work more with charities (rising to 75% of 18-34 year olds)
• 53% of consumers are more likely to give their custom to a business with a strong stance on social and environmental issues
• If a charity or cause was endorsed by a business they trust, 48% of consumers would be more likely to buy a product or service, 40% would be more likely to donate to the charity and 36% would be more likely to sign up to a campaign
The survey, by Forsters agency, polled more than 700 business leaders and 2000 consumers.