The future of work: Sustainable business

Hettie Morrison

Eco-conscious business and industry solutions could contribute upwards of USD 12 trillion worth of new market value and business opportunities globally by 2030.

This aligns with the Business and Sustainable Development Commission Report, Better Business, Better World (2017), which concluded that companies shifting to sustainable and environmental business models will be in the best position to fully embrace these opportunities. In addition, the next decade will be critical for businesses to place this key strategic focus on environmental challenges.

Government response

The public sector has begun following this trend with a rise in environmental legislation globally. For example; the EU and China have recently developed circular economy policies encouraging reduced waste in the business world. It has been stated in the that implementing this circular economy legislation could lead to trillions of dollars in savings for businesses, alongside the obvious environmental advantages.

Leading the way 

In the private sector, some of the world’s biggest companies are leading the way. Siemens, Europe’s largest industrial manufacturing conglomerate, employs around 375,000 people and in 2017 generated ‎€83.049 billion in revenue. The organisation has publicly declared its goal to become a world leader in climate change reduction and claim their environmental portfolio has saved their customers from producing an estimated 300 million tonnes of CO2 as they tap into the market for sustainable investment. Siemens also lays claim to the title of being the most energy efficient firm in the industry, producing more revenue per kilowatt used than any other competing corporation. The organisation states that it “defines sustainable development as the means to achieve profitable and long-term growth”.

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Big footprint, big opportunity

The transport sector, with one of the largest carbon footprints of all industries globally, is beginning to follow suit. Ford is also now not only a world leader in the automotive industry but has also climbed to the top of sustainable business rankings globally. Improving fuel economy and developing technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are key aspects of the company’s business strategy. As well as this, the organisation is in the process of investing $11 billion in its electrified portfolio, indicating a general industry move towards environmental innovation. Ford has stated that “doing our share to meet the collective challenge of climate change is a key responsibility and a strategic priority”.

These examples are indicative of a shift to more of a focus on long-term societal gains and impacts. Innovation underpins the success of these top global organisations and provides clear examples that businesses can actually find competitive advantages in implementing sustainable practices and succeed not in spite of, but because of, an environmental focus. The world’s largest organisations are capable of creating sector-wide shifts and so the trends and activities of these industry leaders are worth taking note of.

It is clear that as the business world moves rapidly into future ways of working, those who adopt sustainable organisational change alongside technological and digital change will be at the forefront of disruption in their respective industries.



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