‘God’s Own’ country has a global reputation for natural beauty, egalitarian society, its nuclear-free stance, a clean green environment, world class food and innovative business.
New Zealand’s history, culture and economy has always been closely connected with nature. We have much to be proud of, and yet there is still plenty of progress required to make it sustainable.
Meeting today’s needs without compromising the future is a global consumer megatrend. Now more than ever, we need a sharp focus on economic revival, plastic waste, freshwater, marine life, zero carbon legislation etc. Irrespective of where your personal view stands along the spectrum of sustainability, the world is telling business to get better at it, and urgently!
“I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” Greta Thumberg, winner of the 2019 KidsRights Children’s Peace Prize
Investors, communities, and consumers are all putting pressure on companies to act sustainably. In 2020 KiwiSaver providers and the world’s largest investment funds banned fossil fuel investments. Social media is buzzing for equality and inclusion.
Colmar Brunton research showed 48% of consumers choose brands with clear sustainability benefits and 86% of us say we want businesses to be ‘kinder’.
What does this mean for Kiwi businesses?
Sustainability is a wide-ranging subject, impacting everything from architecture, biodiversity, and climate change, through freight, nanotechnology, urbanisation, and vegetarianism to zero waste.
It is no longer enough for a business to focus solely on economic prosperity. Today all stakeholders must be considered and balanced with the three elements focused on by investors – environmental, social and economic governance (ESG).
Social sustainability issues cannot be underestimated. We have witnessed this with companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Starbucks, Target, Lego, Diagio, SAP, Sony, Honda and more, suspending their Facebook advertising.
Historically, in manufacturing, sustainability encompassed people safety, diversity, adding value and using resources efficiently (energy, water, land, raw materials, assets, capital, time). Today, manufacturers must also have a carbon management plan, consider greenhouse emissions and be transparent about environmental impacts.
Time to embrace Sustainability
Imagine if you could lead your industry in sustainability. If it was embedded in your DNA, not a project to be ticked off. Everyone doing a little bit every day as the secret to gaining traction with this vast subject. What would you and New Zealand be known for?
Business leaders who weave sustainability into their company vision, strategy and objectives make a good start. The next step is building capability for every employee to implement this in daily tasks.
Lean Manufacturing is a good example of this approach, and well known for producing world-leading quality products whilst delivering customer value and minimising waste.
What must you do?
We often see organisations convinced that sustainability is important, they have a rough idea of what they want to do, understand their objectives well enough, and are already doing some sustainability work. However, they often stumble when it comes to how to deliver on the next level of stakeholder expectations.
Building sustainable competitive advantage requires alignment with:
- Systems, and
Working together, these embed the culture required to sustain transformational performance.
If you want traction, then get help with how to do this at the coalface. Use the skills and expertise of people who know what proven methodologies work in manufacturing and supply chains in the New Zealand context.
Consumers and investors trust brands like Meridan and Whittakers. In fact, 90% of New Zealanders say they will stop buying from a company they think is irresponsible or unethical.
Acting sustainability can be a time-consuming and challenging journey, so it is a good idea to bring a ‘Sherpa’ into your team to help guide the best way forward.