Sustainability is one of the most important areas of attention for today’s businesses. A recent UN study shows that 84 percent of CEOs believe that the business community should lead efforts to define and deliver sustainable development goals.1 In other words, businesses are expected not just to follow environmental trends. We’re expected to establish them and drive them forward.
There are many reasons sustainability is so important, ranging from the operational to the strategic:
- Increasing costs of resources
- Regulatory compliance
- Risk mitigation
- Carbon footprint initiatives
- Better reputation/brand management
- Corporate social responsibility
Financial Benefits of Sustainability
It’s fairly easy to see how operational sustainability can benefit your bottom line. If you’re using less energy and producing less waste (in consumables like paper and ink), you’re also reducing your electricity and materials bills.
A global study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review showed that 37 percent of executives said their organizations’ sustainability-related actions and decisions have added to their profit – up from 23 percent the previous year.2 And according to a different study, 76 percent of CEOs believe embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue and growth and new opportunities.3 As more and more companies appreciate the cost benefits of sustainability, there is a growing need for expert insight into how to make business practices more efficient.
Sustainability management extends into areas you might not expect: reducing office space and real estate, seeking out environmentally friendly materials, reducing the size and nature of packaging, even curbing employee travel in favor of telecommuting, telepresence and other workstyle innovations. There are also opportunities outside your enterprise — choosing suppliers who are high sustainability performers can help cut costs in the long run.
Strategic Benefits of Sustainability
Businesses can look at sustainability as an opportunity for competitive advantage and differentiation. This is especially true in industries where sustainability standards and certifications are being put into place—like the REACH framework for the chemicals industry or EPEAT for computers and electronics.
A recent global study found that 63 percent of CEOs expect sustainability to transform their industry within five years.4 It’s easy to think of environmental responsibility as something that limits or constrains activity, but really, the opposite is true. Businesses are learning to see it as a catalyst for innovation:
“From investment in renewables, to intelligent infrastructure enabled by machine-to-machine communications technology, to new closed-loop business models, leading companies are securing business advantage through innovative R&D and the deployment of technologies ranging from cloud computing to analytics.”5
Finally, embedding sustainability into your company’s mission statement or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment gives key stakeholders — employees, board members, stockholders, even suppliers and customers — demonstrable evidence of your ethics and actions. Most corporations (63 percent) make their environmental goals and efforts public, and more than half (50.6 percent) include sustainability into strategic planning and capital budgeting.6 The time is coming where a failure to value and implement sustainable practices will place a company in an unpopular minority.
The Bottom Line
Effective sustainability management means cost savings and strategic benefits no company can afford to ignore. Environmental responsibility, rather than being a hindrance, is an opportunity to improve your competitive positioning, drive innovation, enhance your brand and satisfy your stakeholders.
1 The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013.
2 “The Innovation Bottom Line,” MIT Sloan Management Research Report, Winter 2013.
3 The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013.
4 The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013.
5 The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013.
6 Ernst & Young 2013 Six Growing Trends in Corporate Sustainability
Setting and meeting sustainability goals for your business is good in every way. You’re not just helping the environment - you’re also increasing worker productivity and improving your bottom line. Furthermore, you’re fulfilling your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) role and demonstrating to your customers, investors, employees and the other stakeholders who are key to your growth, what your ethics are and how you stay true to them.
Improve Sustainability Performance and Processes
As you make improvements for the sake of sustainability, you’ll notice something else happening at the same time: your business processes also improve. If it’s environmentally wasteful, it’s often wasteful from a workflow standpoint as well.
Case in point: document and information processes. A lot of paper, ink and electricity are consumed by things like printers and data centers — and the ways in which they are utilized throughout a business. By doing the same job with fewer resources, or perhaps by reimagining and rearranging how the job is done, you can increase environmental efficiency and worker efficiency at the same time. More and more, businesses are seeking solutions that optimize their current resources rather than add more resources on-site. And to do this, they’re turning to trusted partners like Ricoh, who have the expertise to do everything from assessment to monitoring consumption and implementing improvements to setting up programs to raise awareness and participation among employees.
Reduce Energy Used and Resources Wasted
Extending sustainability management into the realm of workspaces and communication is a great way to save energy and money. Take business travel. Sometimes it’s necessary. But it’s costly, in terms of both carbon and budget. Video conferencing and telepresence can put you in touch with someone on the other side of the world for much less than a round-trip ticket. Similarly, leasing underused office and meeting space is a drain on both environmental and financial resources. Ricoh can make today’s evolving workplaces and styles work for the environment — and your budget.
Satisfy Stakeholders with Your Plan for Sustainability
Nearly two-thirds of businesses in a recent survey said that they publicly report not only their environmental and social goals but also their progress in achieving those goals.1 It makes perfect sense. You can count on stakeholders caring about this part of your business, and by being upfront and transparent about your plan and successes, you show them that you care too. The more demonstrable your sustainability plan strategies, the better you can meet (or exceed) your stakeholders’ expectations.
You can also allay any fears they may have. As energy prices rise and resource availability fluctuates, you need to show people you’re managing your company’s footprint as well as its continued alignment with sustainability objectives. Ricoh’s sustainability services give you the data, tools and perspective to help your business and the environment thrive together.
1 Ernst & Young 2013 Six Growing Trends in Corporate Sustainability
Ricoh has been committed to sustainability and social responsibility since 1976. And as these issues have risen in the public consciousness, our commitment has only increased. For the past decade, we have proudly made the Global 100 list of the most sustainable companies in the world.
We fully understand the sustainability challenges you face and the value you expect from us as a partner. All Ricoh services and products are designed with the environment in mind, so you can be sure that working with us means working toward your targets for corporate social responsibility.
Managed Document Services: Improve Sustainability Performance and Processes
Ricoh Managed Document Services help you examine how your current procedures and practices impact the environment, and from there, we can set a baseline for sustainability targets. We’ll look at your power consumption, paper consumption, CO2 footprint — even the relevant workstyle habits of individual users and departments. (After all, if someone is printing four copies of everything when only one is needed, you should know about it.). Using that information, Ricoh helps you implement plans and policies that reduce waste, environmental impact and operational costs.
Ricoh also provides a curriculum to educate and train employees, making sure everyone understands and commits to the changes you need to make and your reasons for making them. As time goes on, we keep an eye on the numbers, and use this enterprise-wide view of your organization to help you meet — or exceed — your sustainability targets.
Workplace Services: Reduce Energy Used and
How you do (and don’t) make use of your physical workspace is a big part of how your business impacts the environment. Ricoh’s Workplace Services optimize your use of space and technology for efficient consumption of resources.
Rooms drain energy, whether they’re occupied or not. And according to industry research, meeting rooms in big-city offices are empty nearly 50 percent of the time.1 Ricoh helps you uncover inefficiencies like these and helps you develop a workplace plan that facilitates your needs without excess and waste.
Sustainability Management Services: Satisfy Stakeholders with Your Plan for Sustainability
Simply partnering with Ricoh, one of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world, signals to stakeholders that you are committed to environmental sustainability. With Ricoh Sustainability Management Services, you can make that commitment crystal clear.
Ricoh helps you do more than optimize business processes and workstyles. We help you actually visualize the environmental impact of your business, analyze the data and chart the success of your new practices. This gives your stakeholders — everyone from board members to stockholders, customers and regulators — demonstrable proof of good “green” citizenship.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what Ricoh Sustainability Management Services can do:
- Help you develop and implement a successful sustainability plan.
- Offset unavoidable CO2 emissions by using carbon-footprint balancing.
In short, the services and tools Ricoh can deliver are numerous and powerful. Ricoh will be just as tireless in pursuing your sustainability goals as we are in pursuing ours.
1 Johnson Controls, “All In A Days Work: A Global Perspective of Workplace Trends,” March 2012
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