Sustainability isn't a Sacrifice, It's Good for Business

Companies embracing sustainability initiatives may discover benefits and opportunities they hadn't even dreamed about.

The student strikes taking place around the globe to protest government inaction on global warming have put the spotlight on climate change. Inspired by 16-year-old Swedish student and political activist Greta Thunberg, hundreds of thousands of students walk out of class each Friday morning to strike for climate change — and have been for the past six months. 

This recent limelight on climate change is also helping increase the prominence of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all UN member states in 2015, and provides a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and in the future. 

The UN has identified 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which address global challenges we face—such as poverty, climate change, the environment, and inequality—and has set an agenda to achieve each goal and target by 2030.

Rather than being sacrifices our businesses must make, the UN’s sustainable development goals are good for business. In fact, companies embracing sustainability initiatives may discover benefits and opportunities they hadn’t even dreamed about. By working toward the 17 SDGs our company isn’t making compromises—we’re putting money in our pockets and we’re finding huge opportunities.

For example, we’re running our business in a better way. We’re realizing resource savings by using less materials, such as steel and electricity, for the compact equipment we produce, which also results in production cost savings. We’re producing less water waste while saving energy and we’re considering the environmental impacts of any changes or innovations to our equipment. We’re more cost-effective and efficient because of our sustainability initiatives.

If the products we are manufacturing are good for the environment, they usually provide safe, healthy working environments for operators or end-users. These environmental and sustainability considerations make us a more attractive company to do business with as well and to work for, which is so important these days.

Sweden’s economy is based on industrial exports and technology, and it can be difficult to attract and retain employees. Additionally, how do we recruit younger generations? For millennials, and future generations, a job must have meaning as these age groups want to feel they are contributing to, and making a difference in, the world around them. You have to show them they can make a difference by working for your operation.

By committing to the SDGs, you’re putting your company in a good position for recruitment and retention. For example, we’re making compact equipment that requires the smallest resource inputs possible and uses minimal resources and materials to produce end-users’ products (treated seed). Our equipment increases farmers’ yields and we are helping put food on the table. This is a great start in attracting people to our company. The next generation is very aware of what they are eating and how it was produced, and they will demand sustainably-produced products.

We can show them this industry is interesting, exciting and good for the environment. Corporate sustainability will attract young people to our companies. This is just one benefit of incorporating sustainability initiatives.

One of the SDGs is gender equality. There are huge projects to attract and promote women in food and agriculture now, and this trend is growing. Focusing on helping women in industry will also increase our businesses and our opportunities. 

From its beginnings, our corporate culture has been built on the principles of economy and resource conservation, which continues today. In Europe, we’re running out of power — that’s the next challenge, and we can meet that challenge with sustainable practices. It’s important not to view sustainability as a project but as something we must incorporate into our daily lives. 

The whole industry is going in this direction and we have the opportunity to be leaders. Just think, if one secondary school student is able to initiate a global movement to raise awareness about climate change, I wonder what we are capable of as individuals, as corporate entities, and as an industry. 

If you want to take action, visit https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. I don’t think one person can do everything, but I believe everybody can do something—and taking action is infectious.

Can you afford not to build corporate sustainability?

The United Nations have launched sustainable development goals as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals are addressing the global challenges we are facing including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environment degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve each goal and target by 2030.

At NoroGard we are convinced that Corporate sustainability has developed from a nice thing to do, -to something we have to do.

Today the world is so well connected it is impossible to act as an individual or a national company on these global challenges. We must act as world citizens and with global business management.

Globally we are a growing and ageing population, today with a population of 7 billion, to estimated 10 billion when we reach 2100. We are rapidly consuming the natural resources and the CO2 emissions are increasing fast.

 

As business leaders, we can not be sat on the fence. It is about time we take action.

But making decisions that are beneficial for the climate is not about sacrifices, it is also good for the economy. Investors today value companies based on financial data, financial reports, market share, sales growth and cash flowing valuation.

-But are investment regulations of today fit for purpose tomorrow?

I believe that in order to valuate a company or a business, we need to include performance metrics such as ESG. Environment as in energy consumption, water availability, waste and pollution. Social as in human capital, innovation capacity, employee engagement, supply chain management, lay bore rights and human rights. Governance as in boards and directors.

In these performance metrics you will find your level of corporate sustainability and today the private sector is paying attention. The CEO´s of the private sector sees growth, innovation, competitive advantage and future importance in these metrics.

At NoroGard we always keep an eye on our energy consumption and waste for economical reasons to save us some money. We also take huge pride in the fact that the equipment we build makes a good impact. We design our products to have a low energy consumption, make sure they are easy to clean to reduce waste of water, and compact built to reduce waste and pollution.

To care for our human resources is common sense and the soul of the company culture, an engaged employee keeps thriving for innovations and improvement.

As a female managing director and entrepreneur I find it obvious that diversity and equality is good for business, as well in the workshop as in the board.

Corporate sustainability is good business and it is about reducing risk for the environment, it is not about making sacrifices. Food, energy and water will be the business to invest in as we will need to feed 10 billion mouths.

 

So, let’s plan for the future, because that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives!