VIEWS: Sustaining Sustainability: Our Industry’s Fight to Remain Afloat

Dispatched from the SSC Team

In this unpredictable economic climate, individuals remain perpetually concerned about their personal job security.  For sustainability consulting, however, the stability of the entire industry has been in question. Lucky for us, the future looks bright!

In a recent article, Newsweek chronicled the rise of sustainability and the doubt surrounding its survival. With every corporate entity vying for a piece of the “go green” pie, critics speculated that sustainability was a fad destined for extinction after having its run in the PR department. Well, that’s true. Sustainability has not had much luck dabbling in public relations. That’s a step in the right direction, though, because the industry’s been promoted to operations!

Newsweek’s article was inspired by an online survey (conducted by Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact) of nearly 800 global CEOs. 81% of these respondents affirmed that sustainability had become a part of their company’s operations. Often, sustainability measures are introduced into a corporation’s daily routine as a way to strengthen brand image. As this introduction tends to lead to cost-savings, consumer loyalty and increased efficiency, organizations have integrated sustainability into every aspect of the corporation. Whether or not a company is in it for the social good, becoming sustainable is just smart business.

The survey results reflect this notion as 93% of respondents regard sustainability as crucial to their company’s success. Further telling, respondents from high volatility industries (read: auto and finance), found the belief in sustainability to be universal. A dismal economy is actually the time to increase, not cut, sustainability measures as consumers, wary of being burned in the past few years, dole out trust to socially responsible organizations.

Echoing these sentiments is a recent article from Inc., which names environmental consulting one of the best industries for starting a business. Based upon data from IBISWorld, our 17.8 billion dollar industry is expected to grow 9% in the next five years. Take that, recession!