Thursday, January 26, 2012

Top Business Sustainability Trends for 2012

In 2012 it is becoming increasingly clear that sustainability adds value and helps to make an organization more competitive. Sustainability is moving beyond public relations and becoming a matter of survival. More organizations are engaging robust risk management and environmentally conscious operations. Here is a list of sustainability trends that will gain even greater prominence in 2012.

More Green Collaboration. Although collaboration was big in 2011, driven by economic pressures and the need for innovation, it will get even bigger in 2012. Businesses will combine their resources and research expertise to achieve more than they could on their own.

Private Sector Working with NGOs. The private sector will increase their work with public NGOs with the aim of pooling their expertise and delivering greater public good.

Greening Supply Chains. For the last couple of years companies have been looking to reduce their impacts by putting pressure on suppliers throughout their supply chain. These green supply chain initiatives will be increasingly rigorous. In 2012 this movement will achieve unprecedented heights.

Shareholder Pressure. Almost half of shareholder resolutions will be sustainability-related in 2012. This shareholder pressure is forcing companies to get serious about their sustainability efforts.

Green Employee Engagement. Companies are understanding that employees are an effective way to achieve environmental and social goals, as well as to improve recruitment, retention, and the bottom line.

Engaging Social Media. Stakeholder engagment as it relates to employees, customers, and activists are increasingly important elements of the social media revolution. Whether delivering a green message, mobilizing support to advance an environmental initiative or brand monitoring, social media is key.

Emerging markets. Businesses are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of emerging markets. Businesses will get more involved in mitigating these impacts through technology and innovation.

Business and Biodiversity. Businesses will increasingly embrace initiatives that acknowledge and support the importance of biodiversity.

The Growing Prominence of Water. Businesses will increasingly address the importance of water as a key sustainability issue. This will include access to water, water management, water in the supply chain.

Transparency and Reporting. Transparency is the cornerstone of the new business reality and disclosure through reporting is how this is achieved. More and more businesses are becoming transparent with integrated reporting of financial and sustainability reports. A growth in the number of organizations reporting as noted by the Carbon Disclosure Project is an illustration of this trend.

Data Management Software. To help companies with the flood of information they will increasingly use sophisticated software as a key component of their sustainability strategy.

Expanded Role of Boards. To help with oversight and compliance with sustainability mandates, boards will become an increasingly common fixture in 2012.

Virtual Meetings. As organizations increasingly monitor their footprints they are realizing that travel, particularly air travel, comes with a large footprint. To make this footprint smaller, a growing number of physical meetings will be replaced with virtual meetings. Anywhere there is an Internet connection co-collaborators can have access to your screen and vise versa. Here are some examples of virtual meeting platforms: webex, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Elluminate and TokBox.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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