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Sustainability Helps, not Hurts, Innovation

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Jean Sweeney 58f4e109e6b1e
Jean Bennington Sweeney

While many see sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) as roadblocks to innovation, they are actually passing lanes, pushing companies to think outside the box and develop differentiated, meaningful solutions. Read the full article below…

Addressing the challenges facing our global community today requires persistence, creativity and a child-like curiosity. It’s no coincidence that these same three traits are critical drivers of business success and innovation for the world’s most successful organizations.

In an ideal world, natural resources are readily available, local communities are prioritized, and everyone has access to clean water, food and education. Global supply chains play a leading role bringing this reality to fruition—making the world better off for everyone while simultaneously creating an environment that drives business value and innovation.

While this balance shines through at many organizations across the globe, some companies fail to see the big picture, and instead look at innovation and sustainability as competing forces. The reality is that sustainability and innovation aren’t separate goals, but complementary strategies companies must master to create lasting value and impact.

Sustainability and Innovation: Synergy that Makes an Impact

In some cases, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirements are perceived as roadblocks to innovation and creativity. But this mindset couldn’t be more wrong. Focusing on sustainability can differentiate products and services, and make a marked difference on a company’s balance sheet and brand. A few examples:

  1. The product development parameters that come with a sustainability framework force companies to think outside the box. When you’re required to do things differently, you naturally end up with a different end result. Many companies that adopt a sustainable approach to product development end up with more innovative products because they ditch the status quo, enabling creative thinking and manufacturing, and ultimately, better products.
  2. Today’s consumers care more about sustainability than ever before, as 55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries reveal they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. If companies want to secure business from socially conscious consumers, sustainability and transparency have to be top priorities.
  3. Employees are arguably the most valuable assets a company has. Those who are passionate about the company’s vision and mission act as the best advocates for the business, and are more committed to making a difference. Fifty-one percent of employees don’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments, and 74 percent find their job more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work.

Sustainability should influence every decision a company makes—from the products it develops and the suppliers it partners with to how and where materials are sourced. By making sustainability a critical part of the business instead of an afterthought or checkbox for compliance, companies can drive product innovation and…

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