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Businesses urged to put sustainability at heart of strategy

Businesses urged to put sustainability at heart of strategy

Businesses urged to put sustainability at heart of strategy

Businesses looking for ways to improve their sustainability performance and become more responsible corporate citizens have been advised to make these goals an integrated part of their overall strategy.

Claire Vyvyan, senior vice-president for UK and Ireland commercial business at global tech corporation Dell, told edie.net that it is still common for companies to view sustainability as an 'add-on' - something that will require additional human resources or investment.

She argued that making sustainability a part of fundamental business strategy can make a valuable contribution to tackling global environmental issues, as well as helping to engage staff and improving brand reputation.

Dell's example

Dell has taken a number of actions on the sustainability front, with a focus on long-term goals such as reducing levels of waste plastic being released into the natural environment.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has predicted that, if current trends continue, the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish by 2050.

In February last year, Dell became the first technology company to convert waste plastic recovered from beaches into packaging for one of its laptop products. It is now taking part in a global project to create the world's first commercial-scale supply chain for ocean plastics.

Ms Vyvyan said these sorts of efforts should be just one part of broader sustainability strategies that are put at the heart of how modern-day companies operate.

Not just a 'nice to have'

Discussing the importance of sustainability, the Dell executive stressed that it should not be viewed as a "nice to have", but something that is "imperative" for businesses and for the planet as a whole.

"Overall, I think the biggest barrier is that businesses see sustainability as an 'add-on' - a separate programme or set of initiatives outside of their day-to-day business that requires additional resources, be they financial or manpower," she added.

"But by integrating sustainability into your business strategy, there are opportunities to not only build your brand and become a good corporate citizen, but also reduce operating costs and create a more engaged workforce."

One of the actions Dell has taken to integrate sustainability into its day-to-day operations is offering flexible working programmes for staff, which contributes to lower facility emissions and reduced costs for the company. It also benefits employees, through lower travel expenses and a better work-life balance.

The company has also shown its support for the concept of the circular economy, which is based on keeping resources in use for as long as possible and gaining maximum value from them while they are in use. At the end of their service life, materials can be recovered and regenerated for another function.

This is something businesses can get behind by committing to using recycled materials and doing everything they can to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill.

If all organisations, regardless of their size, adopt the right mind-set and make small, constructive changes, the accumulated positive impact on sustainability and the environment will be considerable.

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of iStock/lukbar