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Sustainability Is a Critical Competitive Advantage

If you’re a sustainability manager, it’s a given that you have a deep personal commitment to driving green house gas and carbon reduction within your company. Many companies think they should ramp up their environmental efforts, but it’s not until they see a strong business case that they make a full commitment to sustainability management and the integration of sustainable practices within their business-critical operations.

The MIT Sloan Management Review recently published a report, “Sustainability Reaches the Tipping Point”, highlighting the characteristics of companies that are turning their sustainable business practices into profitability. The article’s authors call these companies “Harvesters.” While other companies may display a strong commitment to sustainable business practices, Harvester companies are actually reaping the benefits of sustainability management and sustainable business practices in the form of increased profits. Compared to other companies, Harvesters are
  • Three times more likely to have declared the business case for sustainability
  • More than twice as likely to have linked sustainability to both company and individual workers’ key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Twice as likely to have a separate sustainability reporting process

While many companies and other organizations focus on sustainability primarily to boost their reputation, the Harvester companies focus on “increased competitive advantage, better innovation, access to new markets and increased margins or margin share.” In other words, these companies think of sustainability as something that makes them better at business, not just something that makes them look good.