4 Hot Button Sustainability Issues - A Point of View

Modern businesses may be worrying about much more than their bottom lines. While the dollars and cents still matter, where does being a good corporate citizen sit on the agendas of many large businesses? Consider these four sustainability issues that matter in the contemporary corporate world.


Sustainability Reporting Tools Struggle to Keep Up


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According to Ernst & Young (EY), sustainability reporting is increasing in line with a strengthened focus on this area of business. Reporting is crucial. Customers, investors, shareholders, policymakers, and other key groups demand transparency in environmental conduct, the firm notes.


Unfortunately, all reporting tools may not be equally keeping pace with this evolution. EY survey respondents claim that tools for developing environmental reports are very basic compared to those used to report financial measures. Until tools can help businesses create reports with the depth needed, EY says that sustainability reporting will not reach its potential.


Employees Drive Company Sustainability

Customers and investors may not be the only people driving companies to become more sustainable. Pressure may also be mounting from within organizations, as employees look to work for environmentally responsible companies. According to an EY survey, employees were second only to customers for driving sustainability efforts.


In response, company management teams may need to get creative when involving employees in sustainability issues. EY says various businesses have adopted promotions to encourage personable sustainability plans, Earth Day fairs, and awards programs recognizing good environmental stewards. Companies have also found distributing sustainability reports to employees can encourage workers to become brand advocates, EY notes. When employees share these reports with family members and friends, people may think more positively about the business after reading the documents.


CFO Role Becoming Greener

When recent graduates pursue a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position, they may expect to handle only a company’s financial information. However, the CFO role is expanding as sustainability takes a more prominent place in the business world, according to EY. As the EY survey reports, 65 percent of respondents work with a CFO who is involved in sustainability. Consider how the two chief concerns of a CFO, reducing costs and managing risks, can also be applied to sustainability issues.


Interest in Water on the Rise

Today, more businesses are showing concern for not only greenhouse gas emissions but also their water usage, especially in sectors where water usage is high, according to EY. These business segments include the metals and mining, oil and gas, agriculture, and food and beverage industries.


More than three out of the five respondents to the EY survey report they publish reports on their water usage. One out of six now have a water footprint verified by a third-party provider, and 22 percent say they plan to create one in the near future, according to the survey.


Considering water usage can be a smart economic move which could save companies thousands of dollars. As more companies realize the impact of their water usage, it may be likely that consumers see more businesses focusing on this area of sustainability.


As sustainability issues such as these impact corporations across the country and the world, sustainability can continue to be a key business concern for future decades.