At NU, we are on a journey to becoming a more sustainable agency. We will be documenting this journey as we go, showing you the real work that goes into it in the most honest and authentic way. To start, we wanted to address what businesses can do to be more sustainable, why it’s so important and the types of areas within your company that need to be tackled.
Currently, we are at the beginning of our journey, but we are committed to making changes to the way we work, with our first goal to become a B Corp-certified business. We know it’s going to be a difficult thing to achieve but we are dedicated to this period of change for the better. The way consumers spend their money has become more eco-conscious over the years, with many preferring to spend more with brands that are at least trying to become greener. Of course, this is a long process for many companies, but by showcasing your intentions and implementing more responsible decisions and processes, you’ll appeal to a much larger audience.
Firstly, what is a sustainable business?
In simple terms, a sustainable business is an organisation that operates in a way that balances economic, social, and environmental considerations. When you think of a sustainable business, often the first thing you think of is the environment. However, this goes beyond environmental factors. Of course, reducing waste and emissions and using renewable resources are incredibly important, but so is socio-economic change, such as corporate culture, promoting diversity and equality, well-being, and ensuring ethical and responsible decision-making.
What can businesses do to be more sustainable?
The first step is deciding to start the process of becoming a sustainable business. Then consume as much information as possible about what it takes to be sustainable and start introducing measures into the business and setting your longer-term goals. The journey will inevitably take some time, but there are some quick wins that you can start implementing immediately.In this article, we are going to focus on five areas of impact that you should focus on:
The five areas of impact
This area of impact refers to the systems and processes that ensure a company operates in a responsible and sustainable manner. It involves incorporating sustainability into decision-making, setting sustainability goals, and involving all stakeholders. Effective governance helps prioritise sustainability, build trust with stakeholders, and ensure accountability. It can also include creating specialised roles and committees and regular reporting on sustainability initiatives.
Quick Win: To start, you can update and review your code of ethics. Then make it available publicly on your website. You should also review and update your mission statement.
Employee sustainability is the current and future ability of people to stay in the workforce. This is determined by a healthy culture that supports and values its employees. This can be showcased in the following ways:
Creating a culture where employees are engaged, committed and have high job satisfaction.
The workforce is diverse and inclusive.
Wellness initiatives to support physical and mental well-being.
Opportunities to learn and develop.
Quick Win: The first thing to consider is creating or updating career development opportunities for your employees. Then the next step would be to work on ensuring the well-being of your employees by implementing a wellness programme that works for you.
Businesses can be more environmentally sustainable by reducing their waste and emissions, using sustainable materials and practices, and investing in renewable energy sources. This can involve implementing waste reduction programmes, using energy-efficient technologies, and transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Additionally, businesses can reduce their environmental footprint by using sustainable materials, such as recycled or biodegradable products, and implementing environmentally-friendly practices, such as composting and water conservation. By taking these steps, businesses can minimise their impact on the environment and help create a more sustainable future.
Quick Win: One of the easiest and quickest things you can do as a business is to ensure you are recycling materials as much as possible. You can also check and improve your water, waste and energy usage as a priority.
There are so many ways that businesses can be more sustainable in their communities. Here are a few things to consider:
Supporting local communities: Working with local organisations and community groups to create positive social and economic impacts within the community.
Encouraging employee engagement: Get everyone involved in community projects and volunteer work to create a positive impact and foster a sense of community.
Promoting sustainable transportation: Such as ride-to-work schemes or public transportation, to help to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.
Implementing environmentally-friendly practices: By reducing waste and emissions, using sustainable materials, and investing in renewable energy sources, businesses can minimise their environmental impact and help to create a more sustainable community.
Businesses can be more sustainable in their communities by considering the impacts of their operations on the local environment and people and by taking steps to create positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes.
Quick Win: Discover ways to give back to your local community, as well as include the community in your business activities where appropriate.
Customer sustainability can help businesses to build trust and increase customer loyalty, as customers are more likely to support companies that align with their values and prioritise sustainability. Ultimately, customer sustainability is about creating a positive impact for people and the planet through responsible and sustainable behaviour.
Quick Win: Reach out to your customers for regular feedback on where you can improve. You should also create a robust complaints process to ensure happy customers and that all feedback is appropriately considered.
Why is it so important?
Improving things like inequality, business culture, environmental impact, and legal systems is essential for us as a global community to survive. Currently, there is a lot that needs to be ‘fixed’ within the business world, so now has never been a better time to make the change necessary.
We asked our founder Sarah why becoming a more sustainable agency is so important to her. Here’s what she said:
“As I have got older and I have been in business for longer, I have experienced first-hand, how running a business can impact the environment. I’ve also witnessed the inequality that people have to suffer (sometimes in silence), the unfair legal systems that we (as SMEs in particular) have to jump through hoops for, whilst larger businesses can avoid them, and most importantly the impact that this has on so many people for their physical and mental health. I have had enough and I want things to change. I recognise that in order for that to happen, I also need to change, and NU Creative needs to change. I’m extremely passionate about making positive changes for people and the planet.”
Through the course of the year, we will be sharing our journey to getting our B Corp accreditation, and the steps we’re taking to make that goal a reality. Follow us on LinkedIn for regular updates.
And if you’re looking to assess your values, mission statement and branding to follow a more sustainable path, get in touch today to see how NU can help you.