When the economy is struggling, business leaders like to shrink their visions to the here and now.
Instead of developing grand plans for the future, leaders focus on helping their organization survive from moment to moment, believing that major changes to business operations are too risky when the economy is in a tenuous position.
Because the economy has slowed significantly through 2022, many large corporations have adopted a holding pattern, unwilling to engage in new projects or endeavors until the economy shows signs of positive movement.
However, many companies cannot afford to remain stagnant for long. In fact, in the current tough economy, it is even more important for business leaders to think about their long-term sustainability strategies. Here’s why.
The Climate Cannot Wait
This particular economic slowdown has an added pressure that no organization can afford to ignore: the climate crisis. Human activities release billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, causing greenhouse effects that are warming the air and oceans. If the current trajectory continues, Earth’s ecosystems will suffer irreversible damage, which means that there will occur mass extinction events and a greater frequency of natural disasters.
Additionally, humans will find it more difficult to cultivate the foods we are accustomed to eating and find clean freshwater. Disease and violent conflict will likely flourish in the new, hotter world, and left completely unchecked, the climate crisis could spell the end of the human race.
Companies that do not take drastic action to revise their operations and adopt pro-environmental practices today will contribute to the deterioration of the climate and the ultimate end of society as we know it. Though corporate sustainability does not refer entirely to environmental sustainability, green practices are critical components of corporate sustainability efforts.
In terms of saving the climate and ensuring the security of business operations into the future, it is now or never for making practical changes to corporate policy.
Consumers Support Sustainable Initiatives
Never before in history have consumers wielded such power over business practices. Thanks to widespread access to the internet, consumers can share information about organizations with incredible speed.
Ratings and reviews across social media, online forums detailing company policies, social media interactions with brands, readily available news stories about company operations and so much more can keep consumers informed about a business’s practices — and lead to massive and almost uncontrollable shifts in brand reputation, if corporate behavior is deemed inappropriate by its consumer audience.
Fortunately, companies can protect themselves by engaging in sustainable initiatives because consumers overwhelmingly support corporate sustainability programs, especially when those programs are designed with social responsibility in mind.
Because consumers are more informed about business practices, they develop more confidence and comfort supporting organizations with shared values and goals. As a result, companies can benefit from enhanced consumer loyalty when they maintain transparency around sustainability initiatives.
Sustainable Competition Increases
A final reason business leaders should recognize the value in corporate sustainability programs is that their competition could already have one in place. For more than a decade, reports on consumer behavior have demonstrated a strong preference amongst consumers for sustainable practices.
Companies that invest appropriately in sustainable initiatives tend to gain competitive advantages in their marketplace — for many of the reasons listed in the previous section. Because organizations should want to avoid losing business to their competitors, leaders should work quickly to institute corporate sustainability programs that meet consumer wants and needs.
The Economy Will Improve
At the end of 2022, the economy may seem on the brink of global recession — but already, experts anticipate a turnaround in 2023. Already, the Consumer Price Index has shown the smallest annual inflation increase in over a year, and rates of unemployment continue to decrease. Business leaders need to make decisions for the long-term benefit of their organizations, which means thinking ahead to a time of economic strength and security.
Now is the time to launch effective corporate sustainability policies and practices, so when consumers regain confidence in the economy, they will know which companies and brands they can trust.