When it comes to developing a sustainable business perspective, it's not just about earning maximum profits and ROI - though that is certainly a part of it. Instead, it's about taking a step back to analyze the impact of business operations on the socio-political environment, natural resources, and future generations. In other words, sustainability has to be a key factor in everything. These days, commitment to sustainable practices is no longer a choice - it's a necessity in order to maintain business continuity and avoid being left behind.
There are a few key reasons why businesses might adopt sustainable business practices - both internal and external. Internally, a company might want to maximize profits or achieve growth, and employees' personal values can also influence whether or not sustainable practices are adopted. Meanwhile, external factors like government regulations or consumer expectations can also play a role in nudging businesses towards sustainability.
Tracking energy consumption is no longer tedious. Large frameworks are available to quickly set-up, configure, and reference data management for calculating carbon emissions. Focus is on forecasting future emissions to measure progress against net zero goals. Simulate scenarios to find the fastest path to net zero and collaborate with suppliers to get a shared view of climate impact.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to practice both, internal and external, for the sustainable development of our companies and create an environment where all the stakeholders - team, investors, consumers, and clients share a common vision and contribute their bit to achieve sustainable growth.
But developing a culture of sustainability requires much more than just imbibing a global mindset or fostering a conducive environment, here is my take on how companies can swear to sustainability by following simple leadership practices.
Growth mindset: Focus on effort, not the output
The key to staying afloat and adaptive in today's constantly changing world is to be able to understand and make decisions about unclear situations quickly. This is only possible when you have a team with a growth mindset, as they're more flexible in their thinking, iterative in their approach, and curious by nature. Growth-focused behaviors like these allow them to be open to new data and perspectives, which in turn allows them to make humble and informed decisions.
A strong belief system in place: Belief is the new benefit
You can change everything about your business - except for your core beliefs. Your beliefs are what guide you, they are the foundation of your business that builds trust and creates value. A business becomes sustainable only when it is governed by its beliefs and nothing deviates it from adhering to them, whatever the situation is. If your beliefs are a little rigid or time-bound, go back and revisit them to make sure they are consistent with what you want your company to offer as value.
Team: ‘Get Real’
Envisaging a sustainable future without a team that also holds a similar vision is unrealistic. A team that brings with it an open mind, gets past their traditional practices and biases, and enjoys with others more as people and not mere co-workers is a team that can lead to an organization’s sustainable development. It is the sole responsibility of an organization to create a work environment that is authentic and safe and becomes a place where trust is established quickly.
Unleash the power of technology: A revolution that is here to stay
The recent changes in the world are complex. Look at Blockchain, Robotics, Neurotechnology, Artificial intelligence. But this time, it might not take generations to unfold. Technology will play a pivotal role in any change. It is not a panacea, but it is a facilitator that can increase productivity, efficiency, and cost savings; reduce software waste; and measure, analyze, and track progress to yield benefits to organizations.
Creating a more sustainable world is a crucial challenge, but also a real opportunity. While the responsibility lies with each and every individual, without a focussed and meticulous leadership it will be impossible for organizations and humanity at large to resolve pressing issues and come out as winners.