Now, more than ever, sustainability is not a nice-to-have – it is critical for long-term business success. And that critical nature extends to making sustainability a strong, balanced approach which can be summarised as the ‘Three CBs’: changing behaviours, commercial benefit and challenging balance.
In order for sustainability initiatives to take root and make a tangible, long-term impact on both business and the community, they have to change behaviours. In the business sense, this begins internally, encouraging best practice, responsibility and personal commitments amongst employees.
Carillion actively supports and encourage its employees to volunteer with charities such as Barnardo’s and create long-term relationships with community projects such as our work with local councils, schools and employee-led mentoring and careers sessions. As behaviours change within the business and within the wider industry, the private sector can start to shape more positive outcomes with and for communities.
Sometimes profit is wrapped up in negative connotations, but that misses the point. Businesses which are in profit are also in a great position to add real value to communities, to the environment, to their employees, to local companies and to shareholders.
So – a business strategy encompassing effective sustainability policies not only safeguards and provides future employment, but also provides opportunities for smaller companies to work with larger business.
At Carillion we took the step a few years ago to include the impact of our sustainability strategy in our financial reports. Built up and tracked through the year, the collected savings and profit contributions from projects across our UK and international operations really add up. Small savings, even shaving a few thousand pounds off waste management bills through recycling, join bigger savings from fuel reduction and careful travel management – and in 2013 that added up to £27.2m million pounds of our overall profit. A streamlined, responsible, ethical business can (and should) also be a profitable one – for the long term.
To achieve lasting change – for itself and for organisations and communities – a truly sustainable business must be ambitious, challenging pre-conceptions and entrenched beliefs and inspiring others to join them. Our commitment to providing 5000 apprenticeship training places over the next 5 years, goes hand in glove with our wider aims to address skills shortages wherever we can, and to offer work opportunities for the long-term unemployed, for ex-offenders and for others most in need of support to create a sustainable career.
An authentic approach to sustainability which strives for improvement makes simple business sense, but an ambitious sustainability strategy which takes on the Three CBs can make businesses successful. It’s not easy, by any measure, but it’s a ‘must have’ as far we’re concerned.