This post was written by Caroline Conena.
Last week’s New Metrics ’14 conference presented by Sustainable Brands and MIT Sloan School of Management brought together top innovators in sustainable business. For 3 days, I joined their conversation and can confirm that the sustainability movement has taken off — and there’s no going back.
Sustainable businesses focus on long-term economic success, environmental impact, and social responsibility.
Change has been slow, but business leaders are starting to redefine “success.” It’s not just about measuring profit and the bottom line anymore. Employee wellness, environmental resources, and social efforts are just as important. The question is how do we measure them?
Conference speakers shared ideas for “new metrics,” ways to quantify environmental and social performance. Soon, there will be a host of tools, indexes, and models to help.
While much of the conference focused on data and assessments, the first day zeroed in on employee engagement. Susan Hunt Stevens from WeSpire uses technology to measure employee’s engagement in sustainable behavior like signing up for a ride-sharing program or reducing workplace waste. She says that disengaged employees cost between $450 and $550 billion in the U.S. each year. (That’s 3 times more than what businesses spend on utilities!)
Making sustainability part of your company’s mission, vision, and values has so many benefits. Employees are more satisfied and inspired to take positive actions. Businesses can build stronger brands, attract and retain talent, save money, and reach sustainable goals. Sustainable practices are not incompatible with profitability — in fact they can actually increase it.
At CommunicateHealth, we’re trying to do our part. We recently invited the Executive Director of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) to come talk about ways we can support local farm products. Staff also worked with a representative from Viridian to choose a renewable energy supplier.
The more we encourage sustainable behaviors, the more innovative we’ll be. We’re also looking forward to new ways of measuring our outcomes — and I think we can expect some impressive results.