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Sustainability: the elite can’t be the standard

Laura Millar, our Senior Sustainability Strategist, gives us key insights from the Blue Earth Summit. For her, it’s not all black and white.

Blue Earth Summit was a cool place to be. There were incredible speakers, thought-provoking sessions and very progressive companies.

The event included a speech from eco beauty company Faith In Nature, who appointed a ‘representative for nature’ to their board of directors. Elvis & Kresse were also there, a luxury lifestyle brand who rescue raw materials, transform them into accessories and donate 50% of profits to charities. And there was an appearance from The Bio-Leadership Project, a movement aiming to connect leadership with nature.  

Source: Blue Earth Summit

What struck me about these inspiring companies is that they seem removed from the sustainability challenges most businesses face:

  • Considering long term impact
  • Factoring sustainability into business strategy
  • Building sustainability expertise
  • Increasing understanding of the climate crisis

The event got me thinking about the business maturity model – a way to measure how much action a business is taking. It will be familiar to a lot of people, often seen in digital, innovation, diversity & inclusion, etc. However, we need to do a better job of applying it to sustainability. It could stop us holding all businesses to the standards of the elite.

I was talking to a client earlier this week about why some businesses don’t do more for sustainability. He argued it can seem safer for smaller businesses to do and say nothing about sustainability, rather than risk backlash.

He said the potential accusations of not doing enough only succeed in holding them back. They’re afraid to have their motives questioned. On the maturity curve, it stops them moving further than Level 2.

Source: Blue Earth Summit

Sustainability is a complicated industry. I appreciate there needs to be a space for analysing business goals and practises, but we need to make that space smaller. Critique should come from peer-reviewed experts, auditors and courts.

We shouldn’t confront businesses about how far along the maturity curve they are. We should meet businesses wherever they are on it – that way, we can truly help them progress.

Source: Blue Earth Summit

100% of business need to be taking steps to be more sustainable today. Yet approximately 85% of businesses are between Level 1 and Level 3 of sustainability maturity.

Businesses should focus on developing accessible and affordable sustainability services to help them move through the maturity curve. They can’t be afraid to progress in their journey.

For more insight on how you can turn the tide on sustainability, get in touch.


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