Ethical business is a benefit not a cost

Over 95% of the top companies in the world said in a recent survey that they believed ethical business was a benefit. Not a cost.

This is a sea change in terms of direction. It means that the world’s leading businesses recognise that being (and being perceived as being) ethical isn’t a “nice to have” extra.

Instead, ethical business drives greater profits. It’s a plus in terms of making money.

Some of this is the way that new technologies like AI and the Internet of Things are making businesses better able to track and measure their energy use and improve their productivity.

But it’s also the fact that ever-growing numbers of people are looking out the window, seeing extreme weather, and suddenly becoming more likely to buy sustainable.

Riding the wave of ethical business

It’s easy to see why ethical and environmental concerns have long taken a back seat in business up until now.

Most businesses have goals and challenges to meet today. Environmental concerns tend to have horizons that span into the decades.

Only in recent years, as being a more sustainable, ethical concern has been proven to also be more profitable, have more stakeholders become convinced as to the business case for sustainability.

This is not to downplay the number of leaders who were already convinced of the moral case for more ethical business, leaving profit aside.

However, it’s helped convince the hold-outs. All business leaders should know that those in position to ride the wave of dramatic changes like this are those who will come out best on the other side.

What are the benefits of ethical business?

Governments worldwide (with some notable exceptions) are pushing business to start being more sustainable. Up until very recently, the UK was leading the way on this.

Yet it’s not just regulatory compliance that’s driving the change toward ethical business. There are many benefits:

1) Consumers are pivoting to sustainability

Though political leadership may sometimes be behind the curve, increasing numbers of consumers are putting their money where their mouths are in terms of spending more to be more sustainable.

As many as 66% of consumers in a recent survey said they would pay more if they judged a product was sustainable. An even higher percentage of millennials (73%) said they would.

Numerous other studies show that most business sustainability initiatives end up being good for profit as well as planet.

This has prompted some companies to indulge in greenwashing. They make grand claims to sustainability that have no basis in reality.

But, in today’s increasingly switched-on consumer landscape, people are getting wise to those who don’t walk the walk on the environmental and social impact of their business policies.

2) New technology means new opportunities

Some of the newest technologies have been talked to death in recent years.

Yet it’s worth underscoring the sometimes relatively mundane-sounding but profitable ways new tech such as the following can be used to improve your bottom line:

Internet of Things and sensors

IoT technology is all about fitting sensors to all kinds of assets and using the data they collect to enable smarter business decisions.

By way of example, a number of organisations (notably in London and Scandinavia) have fitted IoT sensors to rubbish bins.

This means the bins are only (but always) collected when full, minimising wasted staff time and vehicle carbon emissions. Smart!

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Organisations worldwide have also started using AI to analyse data from IoT devices and satellites.

Some are doing so in order to measure industry carbon emissions, pointing to places where improvements can be made.

Others are predicting everything from the best time to plant and harvest given changing environmental conditions to future patterns that might affect businesses in numerous sectors.

Smart grids

Smart devices boost the power of renewable energy sources by making sure energy use is more efficient. One US state energy agency saved over $46 million in a single year with this.

How to make your business more ethical and sustainable

1) There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit still out there

Many businesses have already realised some sustainability initiatives are simple and easy to implement. If you haven’t done so already, you could consider:

  • Installing eco-friendly lighting
  • Switching to energy suppliers that focus on renewables
  • Using less oil wherever possible (e.g. switching to electric vehicles)
  • Carrying out energy audits to minimise wastage
  • Conducting similar audits of water, waste, and other resources

2) Already-adopted approaches are being boosted

Many businesses have already targeted those lower-hanging sustainability fruit.

Yet emerging technologies like those listed above are making the already-tested ways of boosting your business sustainability initiatives even better.

The classic example is how analytics technology and AI can help you audit and assess your current emissions.

3) There are often-missed improvements too

There are still some easy ethical business improvements that are missed out on by huge numbers of organisations. The best of these include:

  • Reducing business travel through remote working – collaboration tools like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace make hybrid working teams highly productive.
  • Buying refurbished electronics and equipment – pointless gadget-chasing means that perfectly good, reconditioned, almost-new tech is often available at a discounted rate. Choosing this option minimises e-waste.

Taking your first step to sustainability

It’s important to get stakeholders at all levels of the organisation to buy into changes made with the future in mind.

Creating a roadmap for implementation is vital too. It allows all parties to have their say and see how they can expect to be affected (as well as why this will benefit them).

Resources also need to be clearly ring-fenced and highlighted as being for sustainability measures. This may include dedicated staff time or a dedicated responsible person.

There may be resistance. Yet the potential profits and on-the-ground business improvements of becoming more ethical is something that 95% of the top companies in the world now agree on.

Want to talk about how to make your IT use part of your business’s sustainable future?

Set up a cost and commitment-free chat with Chief Geek Gildas Jones today

Rely on the Managed Service Provider that has already helped over 1000 businesses in Bristol and the UK get the best from their tech.