As the global economy shudders under the relentless onslaught of Covid-19, many companies have found themselves fighting for survival. Ambitious targets set in Q1 have largely been scrapped as most businesses focus their attention on one thing: cutting costs wherever possible. However, smart businesses are thinking differently. They have realized that, in the midst of the unbridled chaos that is the year 2020, lies a golden opportunity.
Covid-19 has brought business to a standstill. Companies are struggling to break even, with some already going out of business and others not likely to make it far into the recovery period. In many companies, efforts to fight the climate crisis have ground to a halt as businesses strive to reduce capital expenditure. However, smart businesses will view sustainability and the climate crisis through the lens of opportunity. Now is the time for businesses to build up their competitive advantage against others and figuring out how your company is going to tackle sustainability is a great starting point. If approached in an accurate and serious manner, sustainability can be profitable and can set a business apart from others during this impending recovery process.
Sustainability in 2020 continues to be a global issue, however, during the midst of a global pandemic, the way we think about being sustainable has changed. It is no longer seen by all as something ambitious and unachievable or something that would cost excessive amounts of money. The ongoing Covid-19 outbreak is forcing people to rethink and appreciate what is really important: the environment around us and how we can control it. Combined with the always pressing need for companies to make a profit, there is a happy medium of sustainability and profitability — especially during Covid-19.
The days of simply worrying about the bottom line are over. Sustainability needs to form the core of a company’s strategic planning for the future. Customers, both B2C and B2B, as well as investors are beginning to care about what a company is not only saying, but what they are doing to work towards sustainability. They want real action on the issues that matter to them, not flashy campaigns or fluffy sustainability reports. Forward-thinking shareholders are looking for substantial evidence of sustainability action. Companies that are serious about investing for a better future are taking the multi-faceted ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) approach. “In 2018 Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that firms with a better ESG record than their peers produced higher three-year returns, were more likely to become high-quality stocks, were less likely to have large price declines, and were less likely to go bankrupt” (FTSE Russell, 2018).
For most companies, it’s the little things that when compounded can build a more sustainable future for a company. A company should have a long term sustainability goal as well as interim tasks that support the work towards that goal. For example, upgrading to LED lighting doesn’t require a leap of faith in innovation and thus is not too daunting of a short term expense, but will bring your company closer to its long term sustainability target. In today’s volatile environment, few companies wish to incur a huge capital expense. Fortunately, traditional procurement is not the only option. Companies can reduce their energy consumption and costs with a Zero CapEx LED lighting upgrade via Light as a Service.
Working from home which has seen a revelation because of Covid-19. It isn’t something that directly benefits a company and won’t show up on sustainability reports, but reduction in office expenses and travel expenses can help a company reimagine itself and therefore reimagine expenses and profits. Showcasing how flexible and resilient your company is can impact how you view your impact on the environment around you.
Covid-19 is not the opportunity to abandon long-term sustainability objectives because of the current economic fallout, but quite the opposite. Through long term sustainability goals and short term individual changes, a company can maximise its overall opportunity during these times.