‘Businesses can’t thrive in a world where people don’t.’
That statement by CEO Nicolas Brusson leapt off the screen at me as I was researching this article. It has particular resonance at the moment as we face both the immediate public health crisis and the slower moving but just as urgent climate crisis.
And it’s a sentiment that another CEO, Simon Mainwaring, wrote about in Forbes:
‘Climate change will damage economies, devastate populations, increase resource scarcity and dramatically impact the cost of doing business. So for both humanitarian and business reasons, it is imperative that companies of all sizes take action.
‘At the same time it is also likely that more aggressive climate policies will be enforced by government bodies on an international level, so from a business standpoint, addressing climate change now will serve as good business in the long run.’
Businesses need to be adaptable and resilient to navigate the uncertainty of the current landscape, but they also need to keep an eye to the future and lay the groundwork now that will enable them to thrive tomorrow.
So here are 10 ways to fight climate change and future-proof your business…
- Measure your carbon footprint and then set targets to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Set a benchmark for where you are today and then iterate every year. Simon Mainwaring recommends companies set an internal price on carbon so ‘you can assess metrics like the opportunity cost of capital, internal rate of return and payback periods’. And the best way to maintain credibility is to use a third party framework or certification like CDP or ISO 14001.
- Save money and the planet by addressing how you light, heat and cool your organization. Work to reduce your energy consumption and improve your energy efficiency across the entire value chain. And make the switch to renewable energy. This will reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, lower your carbon footprint and may even save you money.
- Work to reduce waste in your business. Accounting for up to 4-5% of a business’s turnover, you can save money by putting a waste management policy in place. Look for ways to prevent waste in the first place, switch to reusables, recycle, transform waste through composting or turning it into an energy source and then dispose of what’s left safely.
- Optimise your transportation across the entire organisation, including how your employees get to and from work or meetings, how your logistics moves raw material into the business and products out to customers. Consider regional warehouses and using shipping rather than flying to move your products around the world. You could even offer help-to-buy schemes for employees wanting to purchase bicycles and electric vehicles.
- Go plant-based with the food you provide for employees in the kitchen and when you cater meetings and events. With agriculture responsible for roughly one third of global greenhouse gas emissions, moving away from meat and dairy at the office can make a big difference.
- Invest in planet-friendly infrastructure – like electric delivery vehicles – or energy efficient kit – like printers, laptops, light bulbs or air conditioners. And remember to always try to repair before you replace!
- Often accounting for a large portion of your carbon footprint, your supply chain is hugely important. Run an audit and choose sustainable suppliers where possible. Start with small trials and then roll out until the entire chain is helping rather than hurting your carbon footprint.
- Turn your stakeholders into advocates. Raise awareness among employees, clients, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders about how you’re trying to tackle the climate crisis and how they can be part of the solution.
- Promote environmentally friendly ways of working. If possible, allow your employees to work from home or encourage flexible working hours to help avoid rush-hour commuting. Continue video conference calls rather than face-to-face meetings unless absolutely necessary. And encourage a paper-free office.
- Get political. We’ve gone past the point where businesses can afford neutrality. We are facing a crisis and it demands urgent action and a loud voice calling on our governments to endorse policies, regulation and legislation that protects the environment, gets us to net zero as soon as possible and supports environmental justice. Encourage your employees to vote every chance they get.
I’ll end with a final thought from Nicolas Brusson that sums up for me what we’re talking about here:
‘Our businesses do not exist in a vacuum. As global citizens, it is also our duty to engage with the challenge of climate change at a meaningful level, not just as a cursory CSR exercise.’