Sustainability Risk: What you need to know

Sep 23, 2021

Have you considered Sustainability risk for your business? We have some good news and things for you to consider.

As a business leader, you are well accustomed to taking on a certain level of risk. Usually, this is in terms of financial, operational and product. But what about sustainability risk? Have you considered it?

Every industry is grappling with what this means for them and there is good news.

The biggest risk is ignoring sustainability all together.

Most businesses will be considering this already but taking different strategies, approaches and are at various places on their sustainability journey. For more information on different strategies, see our recent blog 5 Sustainability Strategies To Consider. By considering sustainability through the lens of risk can also support you to identify some significant areas of opportunity in your business.

How do you tackle sustainability risk and where to start?

Environmental Impact

The most obvious place to start when considering your risk is the environmental aspect. For most businesses, this is easier to consider with a local lens than a global one. If you think of your whole supply chain and operations, are there any key components that could be wiped out with one climate event, think tsunami in one area. Don’t just consider the factors in your immediate supply chain – it’s worth considering all the tiers of your value chain.

Employee wellbeing

Happy and safe employees are productive and loyal ones. What are you doing to ensure this stays the case? There is so much evidence on the productivity advantage of an engaged workforce. Some great statistics on this topic 8 Employee Engagement Statistics You Need to Know in 2021

A little-known obligation of employers is to perform a Stress Risk assessment. If you are not doing this, you should be. It provides evidence that, as an employer, you are aware of and tracking the stress your employees are under and it just one way of managing your business risk. Here is the link to Stress at work – Stress risk assessment – HSE.

Equality and diversity

This is probably the most difficult topics for Business leaders to manage in their business. Ensuring that you have equality and diversity embedded in what you do and providing evidence of this is delicate. Some key things to remember. Diversity, inclusion and equality covers all the following societal groups, not just traditional thinking of gender and ethnic workers.

  • Migrant workers
  • Young Workers
  • Disabled Workers
  • Older workers
  • Temporary workers
  • Gender Sensitivity

 

It about considering everything you are doing to ensure these groups are not marginalised and supported.

Inclusion is a massive opportunity for businesses, given that 1 in 5 working adults have a disability. These are your employees, customers and investors.  For more about this, see this interesting article. The Purple Pound – Infographic – Purple (wearepurple.org.uk)

Ethics and Governance

How do you know if you are up to date on all the regulations relevant to your industry? And not only up to date but ahead of the curve?  Do you have risk here? Are your governance topics high on the agenda of any of your board meetings? To an outsider if something is high on your internal agenda it usually means it is important to you. Do you share externally your policies, achievements and ambitions within the sustainability framework? Saying nothing is almost better than Green washing, so be transparent and specific with what you publish.

Supply chain risk

If we have seen anything from the pandemic, it is how fragile some of our supply chains are. I’m sure this has been discussed around many board meetings with the view to rectify the currently wayward trends and getting your supply chain back on track. But future focussed companies are taking this opportunity to unpick each link in their supply chain for additional risk. In this, we are thinking, do you have any raw materials which are at risk of depletion of threatened by an external factor?  Is your equipment at risk of obsolescence and are you able to fund the replacement? Do you audit your suppliers on their sustainability credentials?

Innovation and Collaboration

Also, this is an opportunity cost of not continuing to innovate and building R&D capacity into your budget and process. Measuring your innovation processes and building capacity for the future is a key strategic opportunity for Businesses. In terms of collaborations and your partnerships, are you maximising what these can bring and have done appropriate due diligence on them to protect your reputation?

Value to customers

A strange way to look at Sustainability risk? Not if you are NOT looking at what your competitors and the market is doing. Since the pandemic there has be an extraordinary number of businesses who have pivoted and evolved in what they offer. We expect this to continue.

If you are providing value to your customer and delivering a product or service from a company with the ethics consumers and buyers are looking for, the business will not sustain.

Community contribution

Just like the environmental concepts we often discuss when discussing sustainability, and what we take and what we give back, the same should be considered for the community in which you operate in.

How do your make an impact of your local community? Is a risk of noise pollution or hazardous waste impacting your neighbours?

Do you recruit and support your local community with jobs? Are you using services and business local to you?

But what is the only thing your need to know about Sustainability Risk…. That you need to start on your sustainability journey!

If you want to discuss more around the sustainability approach within your business, get in touch for a short chat or drop us a line at [email protected].  

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