Why every business should care about sustainability
Those of us who care about the environment have been left in disbelief at the Government’s watering down of its commitments to sustainability. Rishi Sunak announced last week that the deadline for stopping the sale of petrol and diesel cars, as well as that for phasing out gas boilers would be pushed back.
Sunak positioned it as saving the consumer cash in their pocket at a time of economic hardship for many. He faced accusations that this was a rather transparent ploy to gain an edge with an election looming in the not-too-distant future.
The announcement led to an outcry from environmental campaigners, ordinary citizens and fellow politicians. Nobel peace prize winner and former US Vice-President Al Gore even denounced Sunak as ‘doing the wrong thing’.
Often PR is viewed as the ethical touchstone of an organisation due to its role in reputation management. And it is fair to say that integrating sustainability into your business strategy is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. Despite the fact that some key commitments have shifted, it remains that the UK has made legal commitments to reaching net zero as a nation by 2050.
Why sustainability is good PR
So why has Rishi Sunak’s announcement caused such a furore? And why is sustainability Good PR that you mustn’t put your head in the sand and ignore?
Here are some key reasons why sustainability should be a critical consideration for your business despite the shifting sands of Government policy.
- Relevance: Sustainability issues resonate with a broad audience. Aligning yourself with these values can help you connect with your target market more effectively.
- Brand Image: Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can enhance a brand’s reputation and create a positive image. It’s an opportunity to show that you care about more than just profit.
- Good Business Sense: Increasingly tenders are requiring evidence of potential suppliers’ sustainability credentials.
- Media Appeal: Journalists are increasingly interested in sustainability stories because they know it matters to their audience. This means there is increased opportunity for businesses to talk about the things you are doing to genuinely help the world become a better place.
- Attracting Investors: Sustainable practices often attract socially responsible investors. Positioning your business as sustainability leaders can open doors to funding opportunities.
How to avoid greenwashing
Greenwashing is a trap that no business wants to fall into because the reputational damage if uncovered is huge. Greenwashing is the practice of exaggerating or falsely claiming a company’s eco-friendly efforts.
Here’s how to steer clear:
- Transparency: Always be honest about your sustainability efforts. Transparency builds trust, while dishonesty can lead to public backlash. It’s better to be open that you are on a journey than imply you have already reached the destination, when actually you haven’t left the starting block. Provide clear and concise information about your goals, progress, and challenges.
- Substance over symbolism: Focus on tangible sustainability actions rather than green logos or vague claims. Don’t make claims that you can’t back up with data.
- Verification: Encourage third-party verification of sustainability claims. Certifications and audits can provide credibility such as through the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
- Education: Educate yourself and your suppliers about the latest sustainability trends and best practices. Staying informed is crucial to authenticity.
Not mere window dressing
Public Relations serves as an ethical compass for organisations and navigating the complex landscape of sustainability is a key part of PR in today’s world. In an era where consumers and stakeholders demand transparency and responsible behaviour, it is critical that your organisation’s sustainability initiatives are not mere window dressing.
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