The High-Performance View of Sustainability

Sustainability, a historically divisive issue in the short-term focused business world, has gained a lot of broad acceptance in the last few years. In part, this can be attributed to grass-roots movements and anticipated government regulations. And some of this acceptance is due to ongoing evolution in the definition and meaning of sustainability, creating a new focus that forward-thinking business minds can get behind. Sustainability is no longer considered just "going green," it's about supporting a sustainable business model - one that encompasses environmental, social, political and market concerns. But the major hurdle that sustainability initiatives have cleared is the goal of creating cost-effective benefits to the bottom line. At least for high-performance companies, that is.

In the Sustainability In Today's Work Environment Survey Portfolio, i4cp reveals that high-performance organizations - companies that outperform their competitors in market share, revenue growth, profitability and customer satisfaction - are more likely to see measurable benefits from sustainability initiatives than low-performing organizations. In fact, 22.2% of high-performance organizations say they see measurable benefits to a great or very great extent, compared to only 9.4% of low-performing ones. These are benefits directly seen on the bottom line, not just branding and PR opportunities. In other words, cutting waste, conserve energy and improving efficiencies.

That's all well and good, but what are these "best of the best" companies doing differently? The following five measures show how core sustainability concepts have been ingrained in these organizations' strategy and culture:

High-performance organizations are much more likely to make sustainability central to their core business strategies and embed key values relating to sustainability in the culture. This survey was conducted in volatile 2009, indicating that (at least for high-performance organizations) sustainability and business performance are no longer contradictions.

i4cp corporate members can download the study results now. The Sustainability in Today's Work Environment Interactive Data allows further segmentation of the results, including breakdowns by company size, industry and a variety of other factors.

Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.