Many companies and organizations have shifted their core values to focus on the “3 Ps:” profit, people, and the planet. This approach highlights the principle that companies should value not just profit but also social and environmental responsibility.
But how to know if a company is sustainable? There are several ways to do that. You can look at their brand’s mission, check for sustainability certifications, transparency records, and more.
Learning how to know if a company is sustainable is crucial when deciding if you want to buy its products or services. Your choice of company impacts the business’ profitability and sustainability efforts. The more we support sustainable companies, the more likely they will boost their sustainable business approach.
How to Know If a Company Is Sustainable in Six Ways
In this section, we show you how to know if a company is sustainable:
1. Driven By Purpose and Mission
The first step to knowing if a company is sustainable is looking at its mission and vision. Sustainable companies are transparent and consistent with their mission and purpose.
You can often read about their core values and ethical standing on their official website’s “About Us” page. You can also look at the company’s official social media accounts to see if they are consistent in their commitment.
2. Corporate Sustainability Initiatives
Once you know the company’s core values, you can take your research a notch higher and evaluate its commitment. Look at how they implement their corporate sustainability initiatives. These programs or strategies focus on good environmental, ethical, and social practices.
Common examples of sustainable initiatives are recycling or repurposing products, proper waste disposal, optimizing supply chains to minimize carbon footprints, etc.
3. Sustainable or Ethical Certifications
There are several sustainability and ethics certifications from reputable third-party organizations. Certifications set the standards and criteria that define acceptable environmental, social, and ethical practices.
It also encourages companies to improve their eco-friendly programs and initiatives. Certifications also help consumers distinguish “true” sustainable companies from “greenwashing” companies or those pretending to be sustainable to gain customers.
Many sustainable companies post their annual sustainable development report on their website. This report shows the company’s social and environmental impact in accordance with globally accepted standards.
Many countries like the UK also require companies to disclose their energy use and carbon emissions annually.
5. Use of Ethical Sources
A sustainable company should be committed to using ethical, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly sources. Brands are now more active in labeling “Cruelty-Free,” “Not Tested on Animals,” “Eco-Friendly,” or “Made Under Good Working Conditions.”
Companies should source their products and services ethically and sustainably. Look for “FairTrade” or “Fair for Life” certifications; they signify that the product adheres to regulations that promote equitable and sustainable trade relationships.
“True” sustainable brands are more conscious about their packaging. They use recycled materials, can be reused or recycled, or are biodegradable and safe for the environment. Common eco-friendly packaging options are made entirely from paper or use 100% plant-based packaging, such as packaging made from wheat.
Companies and Brands That Are Sustainable
We listed the top 5 companies and brands that are sustainable according to the 18th annual Global 100 ranking published by Corporate Knights in January 2022.
The ranking was from almost 7,000 public companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue. Among the criteria included are carbon productivity score, percent clean revenue (revenue earned from “clean” products and services), percent clean investment (capital expenditures labeled as “clean”), percent taxes paid, and many others.
|Company/ Brand (Ranked)|
Sustainability Strategy and Achievements
|1. Vestas Wind Systems||– Produces zero-waste wind turbines|
– Helped eliminate more than 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon emissions
|2. Chr Hansen Holding||– Develops natural ingredient solutions for food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, etc.|
– Works with UN Sustainable Development Goals on its energy use, water and waste disposal, carbon emissions, etc
|3. Autodesk Inc||– Develops technology that promotes energy efficiency and material productivity|
|4. Schneider Electric||– Provides energy-efficient technology and sustainable automation for homes, buildings, and infrastructures|
|5. City Developments Ltd||– Considered the world’s most sustainable real-estate organization for its low-carbon constructions|
Are Sustainable Companies More Profitable
Many business owners often wonder, “Are sustainable companies more profitable?” Some studies prove that sustainability initiatives help increase profitability and create business opportunities.
A 2021 research shows that sustainable digital companies are 2.5 times more likely to outperform their competitors in business growth.
A study from Oxford University shows that sustainable companies perform better than those that aren’t. The study noted that Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices resulted in more profits, lower operating costs, and better share prices. Sustainability programs also have a positive impact on the company’s investment performance.
The results of these studies reflect the consumers’ preference for sustainable brands. A 2019 survey revealed that over 73% of consumers worldwide are willing to change their “consumption behavior” to buy from companies that help the environment.
How Can a Company Be Sustainable
There are three pillars of corporate sustainability: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). These pillars will guide your sustainability initiatives and help answer the question, “how can a company be sustainable?”
Environmental sustainability can be shown by reducing your company’s carbon footprint and managing water and waste disposal. Social responsibility means looking after the best interest of your employees and community. Governance refers to your company’s transparency, accountability, and regulatory compliance.
How to Implement Sustainability in a Company
Following the three pillars of corporate sustainability, companies should create a development plan. The first step is to define the company’s sustainability goals. Find ways to incorporate your goals into your supply chain, resources, policies, and processes. Importantly, you need to educate and engage your employees.
You can help build your company’s sustainability values by taking training and courses. Sustainable environment training will not only increase your knowledge but will also build values in your personal life. Sustainable employees and leaders help create a healthy organizational culture.
Your Choice of Company Has an Impact
Consumer loyalty plays a crucial role in the success of a company’s sustainability goals. Your choice of company has an impact on the community and environment. The more we support companies and brands that are sustainable, the more they improve their programs.
Our choices create a ripple effect, encouraging more businesses to make beneficial changes to our environment.