Sustainopreneurship is a combination of the words ‘sustainability’ and ‘entrepreneurship’.
Wikipedia defines sustainopreneurship as ‘the use of business organizing to solve problems related to social and environmental sustainability’. It is a ‘business with a cause’ where world problems are turned into business opportunities by deploying sustainability innovations, similar to social entrepreneurship.
There are, of course, great economic benefits for companies to adopt a sustainable policy, as a result of reduced usage of materials and less waste. For the environment, it is also important that we take care of resources in order to ensure there is a world not destroyed by pollution for next generations to enjoy.
But are these the only advantages a company can glean from pursuing an active sustainability process?
Consumers are increasingly assessing brands and companies from other perspectives than purely for the benefits and features of the products and brands they buy.
Consumers want, and indeed increasingly demand, that the brands they support do ‘good things’, which may refer to a whole range of different things from planting trees, reducing carbon footprints or advancing sustainable development in agriculture.
Mars’s climate change efforts
The food industry has, for example, led efforts at the recent climate conference in Paris to push for strong political commitments alongside those that the industry has set for itself.
The chief executives of the world’s leading food companies have published an open letter to global leaders seeking individual and collaborative action on climate change and urging governments to forge clear international agreements at the upcoming climate debates of COP21, which were held in December of 2015.
“Climate change is bad for farmers and agriculture. Drought, flooding, and hotter growing conditions threaten the world’s food supply and contribute to food insecurity. As world leaders convene in Paris you will have an opportunity to take action on climate change that could significantly change our world for the better,” the letter stated.
Mars CEO Grant Reid said: “As a society we face immense challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and deforestation. We cannot stand back and simply accept these things as they are. We’re calling on the business community and global leaders to work together to set a new way forward. We can, and must, do more.”
Mars has set numerical, science-based goals to steer its sustainability programmes, including the effort to eliminate all fossil fuel use from its operations by 2040. The company is on track to achieve a 25% reduction in its carbon emissions by the end of 2015, in comparison to 2007. Mars recently invested in the 211-megawatt Mesquite Creek wind farm in Texas that completely offsets all of the electricity used by its US operations.
This is communicated openly to staff, trade partners and the wider world and it is not for nothing that Mars is recognised as one of the best companies to work for.
In many ways, B Corporations personify the positive actions that consumers seek from brands and companies. B Corporations are companies where profit is not the sole goal and where social and environmental aspects are as important if not more so.
B Corporations are not there for the shareholders only, but bring benefits to all stakeholders involved. Environmental aspects are an important element for these companies as are the communities where they operate (staff, customers, suppliers, the area, diversity and civic engagement), governance (accountability and transparency) and workers (compensation, benefits, worker ownership and work environment).
There are at least two pet companies that are B Corporations. In the US, West Paw Design has been certified for some years and in the UK, Lily’s Kitchen received its certificate in 2015.
Both these companies have confirmed that the certification process is extremely rigorous and requires transparency in everything.
Consumers appreciate this and respond positively. As Henrietta Morrison, CEO and founder of Lily’s Kitchen, has stated that pet owners feel good about spending their money at Lily’s, which is the result of more than just the products. It is also derived from consumer support and their belief in the values and openness of the company. And it is not just customers who react like this. Finding and retaining high-quality and motivated staff has contributed to Lily’s Kitchen attaining this position too.
So the benefits and the communication opportunities for companies embracing sustainability are many. In a world where competition is becoming ever tougher, such benefits can be significant.
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