Daniel Collins is a senior consultant at Avieco, a sustainability consultancy based in London that works with startups, SMEs and larger organisations to create and implement sustainability strategies.
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Why is sustainability important?
Sustainability is important to everyone and every business. The Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015 showed a global recognition that we need to limit global warming to under at least 2C compared to pre-industrial levels.
As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and transparency becomes more prevalent, leading businesses are incorporating sustainability into their day-to-day operations.
Consider your stakeholders
For startups assessing whether sustainability is important to them, it makes sense to think about their various stakeholder groups including investors, customers, staff, and broader stakeholders.
Investors: Investors that aim to deliver long term return for their shareholders can't ignore sustainability factors from environmental, social governance to economics that can all affect company profitability.
Customers: Customers are quickly becoming more interested in the sustainability impact of their goods and services. And as such, the companies from which they procure them. Research by IBM shows that seven in 10 consumers deem sustainability to be extremely important, and have expressed a willingness to pay up to 35% extra for sustainable brands.1
Staff: An integrated sustainability strategy boosts productivity amongst staff and increases retention. It can also be used as a pull towards your business when recruiting.
Broader stakeholders: Incorporating sustainability into your day-to-day operations will help you to stand out amongst your broader stakeholders, whether it be competitors or suppliers.
Once you have considered what sustainability means to you as founders as well as your stakeholders, it is time to start putting together the strategy itself. This is addressed in Part 2.