More than eight out of ten CxOs plan to accelerate their firms’ environmental sustainability efforts over the next year, according to a Forbes survey. If you’re not accelerating, you’re behind—and the data backs this up.
Forbes proprietary research also found that:
- 71% of CxOs say environmental sustainability is key to their company’s competitive advantage.
- 51% of CxOs report pursuing environmental sustainability goals as a top focus.
- 65% of CxOs say that climate change poses a grave risk to their business and if they do not take steps to combat its effects today, they will lose the trust and loyalty of their stakeholders.
Clearly, sustainability isn’t a trend for marketers or brands to jump on; it’s a long-term commitment to a better way of doing business.
And to help you make that commitment, we’ve collected several useful tips from across the Forbes ecosystem—including from the experts at the 2022 Forbes Sustainability Summit.
Find sustainability champions to champion with you
As a marketer, or even as a human being, as much as you support sustainability, the impact will be even greater if you find people to go on that journey with you. Take it from myAgro, a non-profit social enterprise in Forbes’ BrandVoice EQ program, which sees partnerships as “a way to build connections, refine program design, expand impact, and deepen knowledge about the needs and challenges of those they serve.”
Or, take it from Sheila Enriquez, the Texas market leader & Houston managing partner at Crowe. She spoke at the 2022 Forbes Sustainability Summit, where she said, “when I think about our business, our ecosystem is made up of our people, our clients, the communities that we serve and our stakeholders…It takes a village to actually solve the problems to create a better tomorrow.”
Forbes research also supports this insight—one survey found that 56% of CxOs said their company will work with other brands to create products or solutions that help combat some of society’s most significant challenges, such as climate change and social injustice. Sounds like it’s time you found your village, your partners and your champions.
Choose to be a part of the change—not the status quo
Great marketers know that the best marketing creates change–whether that’s a change in sentiment or behavior. Given that, waiting for the world to transform is not a valid excuse to hold off on upping sustainability efforts. Alexandra Pal, CEO of L’Oréal Foundation & chief corporate responsibility officer of L’Oréal, put it best at the 2022 Forbes Sustainability Summit, “we cannot just say consumer behavior is not changing.”
“We have to change consumer behaviors…so we have to be capable to create desire for sustainability. But that’s a new job, and there is still a lot of reinvention necessary to make it happen.” Marketing has always been about creating change, and that may mean marketers change how they approach sustainability to make it happen.
Expand target audience needs to community needs
It may be time for brands to expand beyond target audiences and start thinking about the broader communities they serve. Consider if you did that; what new needs you might discover, especially as it comes to sustainability?
“If a company does want to grow, but in a very responsible way, it has to own issues beyond itself,” explained Beatriz Perez, the SVP & chief communications, sustainability & strategic partnerships officer, at The Coca-Cola Company, at the 2022 Forbes Sustainability Summit. “It has to look at what the community needs before we can actually be a successful business and solve what the community is telling us is the real issue.”
Communicate your sustainability progress with integrity
Most marketers and business leaders have heard about greenwashing—a term tagged to businesses that misrepresent their sustainability. And yet, companies time and time again try to be seen as sustainable without owning up to unsustainable practices. Greenwashing comes with a high cost to marketers, says Forrester, who issued a report earlier this year on sustainability communications to help marketers manage these messages with integrity.
According to Thomas Husson, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester, the best way to avoid greenwashing is “to truly embark on a multiyear sustainability transformation journey and to revisit your marketing approach, embracing a much more humble, co-creative stakeholder dialogue to activate trust in all sustainability claims.”
Watch the replay: 2022 Forbes Sustainability Summit
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