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Sustainability Should Be in Every Company’s Mission Statement

Making great products is no longer enough

Sean Youra
Aug 24 · 4 min read

Corporations Have a Big Role to Play in the Climate Crisis

Let’s analyze the following corporate mission statements.

Google: “[…] organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Facebook: “[…] give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Southwest Airlines: “[…] dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.”

These all sound great, but what’s missing?

A commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment.

Since 1988, 71% of global emissions have been produced by just 100 energy companies. Additionally, corporations produce significant emissions on a daily basis. Therefore, it’s about time that they did their part to reduce their negative impact on the environment and help address the climate crisis.

Granted, some companies like Google are stepping up to reduce their environmental impact by procuring their energy from renewable sources, but that isn’t enough.

What’s needed is a comprehensive approach to sustainability that should be guided by a strong mission statement and vision.

A Comprehensive Sustainability Approach

Companies might like to flaunt how eco-friendly they are by talking about how their facilities run on 100% renewable energy, but what about the supply chains that they rely on to provide raw materials that they use to make their products?

Many corporations have outsourced much of their manufacturing overseas to places like China who still heavily rely on coal for their energy use meaning that there’s a significant amount of emissions that are already “baked” into the product by the time the materials arrive at the corporation’s facility for further processing.

This is why product lifecycle management (PLM) is becoming more relevant in all industries to ensure that any environmental risks and hazards are mitigated from early conceptual design work through production and eventual disposal of the product.

Companies need to carefully consider the materials that they’re planning to utilize for their product designs to avoid potential harm to people and the environment throughout the product lifecycle. Risk-benefit analyses should be conducted to justify why certain materials should or should not be used based on their potential harm and how critical they are to the product’s functionality and performance.

Supply chain companies need to be held accountable for their own emissions and their corporate customers can help drive initiatives at these suppliers’ facilities to reduce their emissions as much as possible or else choose more sustainable suppliers that can provide equivalent materials.

Overall, companies need to assess the entirety of their carbon footprint, including all third parties that they utilize, and adopt sustainable policies and practices that will help reduce their carbon footprint.

Just like how some companies have quality objectives and performance metrics for tracking things like product complaints and customer satisfaction, they should also include sustainability objectives and measure those on a periodic basis to ensure they’re meeting their targets.

Sustainability Makes Good Business Sense

If companies want to maintain their competitive edge and ensure their business continuity, then it is in their best interest to begin adopting sustainable practices that are in line with their mission statement and are reflected in every aspect of how they do business.

There are two important reasons why any business should take sustainability seriously and adopt a comprehensive sustainability approach.

First, business continuity planning in terms of potential environmental catastrophes is often overlooked and companies are ill-prepared if a major hurricane, earthquake, fire, flooding, or other natural disaster were to destroy their facilities or their suppliers’ facilities.

Climate scientists have been warning us for decades that these severe weather events are only going to get worse as we pump more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and we’re now seeing that with our own eyes on an almost weekly basis. Therefore, the environmental risks to companies, especially in flood-prone or fire-prone regions, continue to increase.

If companies don’t take sustainability seriously and reduce their emissions rapidly, their business continuity will be threatened.

Second, more than ever, customers are making decisions about what products to buy not just based on cost and quality, but also other factors including how eco-friendly they are.

According to a 2017 Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, 81% of respondents felt “strongly that companies should help improve the environment”. Consumers in emerging markets like Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East were even more adamant that companies implement sustainability practices as people in those regions are already experiencing the worst effects of the climate crisis and environmental hazards like air pollution that pervade their everyday lives.

This trend will only continue and consumers will gravitate in increasing numbers toward companies that take sustainability seriously as consumers try to reduce their own carbon footprints through the products that they purchase.

If companies want to maintain their competitive edge and ensure their business continuity, then it is in their best interest to begin adopting sustainable practices that are in line with their mission statement and are reflected in every aspect of how they do business.


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Sean Youra

Written by

Engineer by day, writer by night | Passionate about technology and protecting the environment

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +504K people. Follow to join our community.

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