With investors becoming increasingly comfortable about putting their money into socially responsible investment; such investments in the US grew by 486 per cent between 1995 and 2012, outpacing other managed US assets, which grew by 376 per cent over the same period. Clearly, then, developing a corporate culture of sustainability provides a competitive advantage to companies in the long run.
While Singapore has not yet wholly embraced this culture, government initiatives are setting the lead towards more sustainable governance. With shifting social consciousness, being sustainable keeps companies relevant in today’s environment. Interestingly, taking a strategic view and making long-term commitments to sustainable policies is generating positive results that go way beyond a good reputation alone.
Benefits of a sustainable business
Sustainability improves a company’s image, which is important for establishing the quality of a brand. An enhanced company image is also motivational for employees. It encourages existing employees to stay on, and inspires new ones to join a company.
These advantages are especially relevant for an SMB, as they provide a cost-effective means of promotion of its products and services to both potential customers and employees.
Recognising the value of sustainability in businesses, SBF (Singapore Business Federation) launched the Singapore Sustainability Awards (SSA) in 2009 to honour organisations for outstanding sustainable business practices. Not only do these businesses have innovative sustainable practices and solutions, they also implement technology in unique ways or create products that are environmentally conscious. One such example is the 2015 winner of the Top Honour title (under the GTA Small & Medium Enterprise category) at SSA, Elmich Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company that provides ecologically minded urban landscaping, waterproofing, drainage and stormwater management solutions.
So, is sustainability now the key to business growth? And how can SMBs imbibe it? Integration of a long-term sustainable strategy must be initiated from the top down and must be a part of the company ethos to be successful. This will ultimately add value to the brand, product or service by positively impacting the environment and the society the business interacts with.
Innovation is essential for this transformation and some ways that companies could start creating a positive outcome may be by paying attention to utilising existing resources effectively and introducing more productive business processes. Adopting direct ways of reaching the customer to eliminate middle men (to avoid waste and/or additional processes) and reducing waste at the workplace (material, space and time) are other ways of inculcating a sustainable business outlook.
Sustainability is a credible and significant value creator for SMBs. It pays to invest in a sustainable business to reap the benefits in the bottom line, as well as culturally, socially and environmentally.