Sustainability is a word that is often heard when discussing business in today's environment. But what does it really mean? Michaela Wright, HSBC's UK Sustainability Manager, shares her insight.
Ultimately, sustainability is about operating your business in a way that does not harm society or the environment. And whether you are a small company just starting out, or an established operator, it means thinking about your business over the long-term.
It is easy for any business to get caught up in today's issues. However, taking a longer-term view can only benefit your business and help to reduce your exposure to risk and potential issues further down the line. This could, for example, be reputational issues in your supply chain or the increasing scarcity of key raw materials.
Of course, this involves upfront planning to make your business more sustainable, but you could make savings in the long term by reducing waste and introducing greater efficiencies.
Putting a sustainability lens over your business could also give more meaning and purpose to your work and that is certainly a good thing when it comes to attracting and retaining employees.
It is an issue that is very much front of mind for the 'millennial' generation. Indeed a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (sponsored by Wealth and Personal Banking) found that 87 per cent of millennials believe that business success should be measured by more than just financial performance, and 93 per cent believe that social impact is key to their investing decisions.
The issue of sustainability, of course, needs to be viewed in the context of climate change and the commitments made by UN government parties as part of the Paris Agreement.
The commitment to limit the temperature increase caused by global warming to 1.5°C, highlights the need to move away from certain practices - reducing use of fossil fuels and stopping deforestation, for example.
Inevitably this will impact businesses now and in the future and they will need to consider everything from the raw materials they use in their production processes to how they get their goods to market.
If you consider the implications of climate change for your business and wider supply chain from the outset, it will help you be fit for the future.
Building a sustainable business can be a daunting prospect but it should be viewed as a journey and not something that you will necessarily achieve from day one. However, considering your business practices through the lens of sustainability can only help you in the long term.
To find out how HSBC can support you in your efforts to become more sustainable, please contact your Relationship Manager or visit a Business Specialist in branch.
To find out about how HSBC approaches sustainability through the three core areas of: Finance, Operations and Communities, click here.