Sustainability and growth go hand in hand

Monday, 16 December 2019

How you can work with your energy provider and other organisations to boost your reputation.

Sustainability and growth go hand in hand

How you can work with your energy provider and other organisations to boost your reputation.

There’s a growing recognition among businesses that ‘being responsible’ can set them apart from the competition and help improve their reputations. It can make them more attractive to customers, procurers, suppliers and investors as well as existing, and potential, employees.

What do we mean by ‘responsible’? A key part of it is respecting the environment by taking steps such as reducing your carbon footprint and finding more eco-friendly ways of doing business. But it goes further than that: it’s about operating sustainably in the broadest possible sense – making a real contribution to society. In short, it’s about giving your business strong foundations and ensuring you’re in a position to grow your values in line with your business.

Research backs this up. More than a quarter of those who responded to Ethical Consumer’s 2018 YouGov survey stated that they had avoided buying a product or using a service due to its negative environmental impact in the past year – an increase of 65% since 2016. Operating sustainably is becoming not just a ‘nice to have’, but a key reputational pillar and something consumers are increasingly looking for in their purchases.

Being responsible can have a direct impact on your reputation and increasingly, on your bottom line, as customers look for businesses whose values align with their own.

Go green

Customers increasingly expect businesses to support social and environmental issues. One way to meet this demand is to have renewable energy credentials. You can do this through selecting a tariff that’s made up of renewably sourced energy.

Take SSE Green. This is SSE Business Energy’s 100% renewable electricity contract, which is fully backed by Renewable Electricity Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) and independently verified by EcoAct. This means you can be confident that the electricity your business has purchased – matched to your consumption from the grid – is renewably sourced and can be reported with zero carbon emissions under the GHG Protocol market-based method.

Electric vehicles – run on green power – can also help your business enhance its green credentials, stand out from the competition, and deliver on corporate responsibility pledges to cut carbon emissions.

Switching to electric cars or vans could save you thousands of pounds too, thanks to government grants, tax breaks, fuel savings and reduced servicing costs. UK businesses and fleets can save an estimated 20-30% in upkeep and repair costs alone compared with petrol or diesel vehicles, according to Go Ultra Low.

Improve energy efficiency

Another way to show you’re serious about reducing your impact on the environment is to assess how energy efficient you are and to take steps to improve it – this will also help save you money.

You may have adopted basic sustainability measures, such as using recycling bins, but many businesses don’t have an effective energy efficiency strategy in place, so this is an area where you can quickly reap the reputational benefits.

To help you do this, there’s a range of tools available on SSE Business Energy’s website, including a checklist to help you assess your business’s current energy efficiency and quick wins you can put in place immediately to help reduce your carbon footprint. Keeping your employees engaged with the energy efficiency process can result in longer lasting, more impactful changes, so the website also includes advice on how to get employee buy-in.

Knowing how your business uses energy is the first step, so talk to your supplier about the suitability of a smart meter. If you lease or rent the premises where you operate, see whether your landlord is willing to support you in saving energy.

Pinpointing ways to reduce your energy usage will also help you get into the mindset of cutting down on wasteful practices – a sure-fire way of becoming more sustainable and reputable.

Get the Fair Tax Mark

Paying taxes on time and fairly – and being seen to do this – indicates a responsible business. You can demonstrate you’re doing this by becoming Fair Tax Mark accredited; this is an independent stamp of approval that proactively shows you pay the right amount of tax, in the right place, at the right time.

To make it easier for you to do this, SSE Business Energy has teamed up with Fair Tax Mark, following SSE’s accreditation with the society in 2014, and developed an interactive assessment for businesses. This asks you questions about your current tax practices and from this, helps you assess whether there’s value in you becoming Fair Tax Mark accredited too and advises you of the next steps.

Be a Living Wage employer

Additionally, you can become a Living Wage employer. This can have a real, lasting impact on the public perception of a business: 86% of those who have taken the plunge said it enhanced their general reputation, according to research by the Living Wage Foundation.

As a proud Living Wage employer, SSE Business Energy has included resources on its website to help you implement a real Living Wage.

Why not follow these steps today and boost your business reputation?

This article comes courtesy of electricity and gas supplier SSE Business Energy, which works with companies and public sector organisations to build their reputation and help them become more sustainable. SSE as an organisation has spent over £3.9 billion on renewables since 2010 and has the broadest portfolio of renewable energy-generating assets in the UK and Ireland.