Why sustainability in business is more important than ever

Jun 6, 2022

Man working on a laptop at a sustainable business

Companies are rushing to let their customers, employees, and investors know about their achievements in sustainability. 

It’s clear that the importance of sustainability in business is well known — 90% of executives believe sustainability is vital for business. Yet, while that awareness exists, few companies are taking meaningful action. 

And that’s giving purpose-driven companies, who put sustainability at the heart of everything they do, an advantage in the market. 

What is sustainability in business?

You should be able to run your business without negatively impacting the environment or local community — all while doing what’s right for your employees and customers. And that’s what sustainability in business is all about: taking responsibility for how your company operates. 

A truly sustainable business will set aside short-term goals and focus on creating a brighter future for customers, employees, and wider society. 

There are three pillars of sustainability: 

  • Social.
  • Economic.
  • Environmental.

All of these are important building blocks when building a sustainable business plan. In this article, we’ll focus on how your business can improve when it comes to environmental sustainability. 

Understanding the importance of environmental sustainability in business

Companies are waking up to the importance of sustainability in business

Between 2017 and 2021, Google searches for ‘sustainability in business’ rose by 16.5%. And that knowledge has led to a sharp rise in the number of businesses reporting on sustainability. 

In 1993, only 12% of N100 companies reported on sustainability — that percentage rose to 80% in 2020. And it’s the same story for G250 companies, as sustainability reporting grew from 35% in 1999 to 96% in 2020.

Line graph showing how the number of companies reporting on sustainability has grown

Note on the data: G250 companies are the 250 biggest global companies defined by the Fortune 500. N100 are the 100 biggest companies (by revenue) in 52 countries. 

By reporting on sustainability, companies can develop strategies and take actions to bring about positive change. But while the importance of sustainability in business is clear to most stakeholders, only 13% of EU companies act on their sustainability strategy

This is a hurdle known as the ‘knowing-doing gap’.

The knowing-doing gap

90% of company executives know that including sustainability in their strategy is essential to remaining competitive. Yet, putting that knowledge into action is another matter. And companies are beginning to feel the heat.

Purpose-driven companies, with sustainability at the heart of everything they do, are closing the gap on their competitors. Making sustainability a clear part of their strategy helps companies build customer loyalty and attract top talent. 

It’s hard to believe that there’s this gap between knowing and doing — especially when considering the benefits of sustainability in business.

Business benefits of sustainability

Becoming an environmentally sustainable business isn’t just good news for the planet. It can help you run a business that thrives thanks to:

  • Increased employee retention;
  • Attracting and hiring top talent;
  • A rise in customer loyalty;
  • Lower day-to-day running costs;
  • Opportunities to strike up new partnerships and relationships.

Put these benefits together, and you’ll be able to gain an edge over your competitors — especially when it comes to recruitment. Employees want to see companies take action. 

A Porter Novelli survey found that the majority of employees want their employer to have a clear purpose:

  • 69% won’t work at a company without a vital purpose; 
  • 60% will take a pay cut to work at a purpose-driven company;
  • ​​63% believe their company has a responsibility to address social justice issues. 

To become a top business, you need the best staff. And the statistics show that it’s easier to attract and retain the best employees if you run a sustainable business.

Colleagues working to build a sustainable business plan

How to become a sustainable business

Running a sustainable company is good for business. But how can you make that happen? 

You’ll need to consider where you are on your path to environmental sustainability and go from there. Here are some tips to get you started.

Start with research

Analysing your business areas that could run more sustainably is the best place to start. That means looking into materials, processes, and energy consumption to find areas for improvement. 

Carrying out the research that will build your company’s sustainability plan isn’t a one-person job. Delivering a successful sustainability plan will take a team effort, so ask employees where they see opportunities. 

It’s also worth conducting customer research too. Working towards goals that your customers believe you should be setting will only help increase customer loyalty.

Set targets

With your research in hand, it’s time to set some goals. 

Many businesses publish ambitious targets that grab the headlines. Your targets don’t need to be so bold. Instead, set realistic and achievable goals. Here are some quick wins to get you started:

  • Switch to renewable energy; 
  • Make it easy for employees to recycle;
  • Hand out reusable water bottles to your team — brand them with your company’s logo for some added exposure. 

Over time, you should aim to resolve more prominent issues. And each year is an opportunity to share your targets with employees, customers, and investors as part of a sustainability report.  

Share your achievements

Setting targets is one thing but reaching them is another — as we’ve seen from the knowing-doing gap. Share achievements as part of end-of-year reports or on social media to remind customers of your mission and that you’re moving in the right direction.  

Making a real change could lead to your company being nominated or even winning environmental awards. But remember that it’s a team effort, so remember to recognise employees’ efforts in helping the company achieve its sustainability goals. 

If your business is in the early stages of moving towards a sustainable future, then don’t claim you’re doing more than you are. 42% of companies exaggerate their sustainability claims (which can be considered greenwashing). Doing this is enough to put off customers, employees, and investors. 

Work with sustainable partners

You could become one of the most sustainable businesses in the world. But if you’re working with companies who aren’t working towards the same environmental goal, then it could all be for nothing. 

And moving your business toward a sustainable future will open up the door to more partnerships and collaborations. 

Create a culture around sustainability

You can set your company on a path towards a sustainable future, but you need to get your employees on board. Otherwise, it will be a challenging task to maintain and improve standards. 

You must make the importance of sustainability in business clear to your team and show how their day-to-day choices impact the planet. Here’s how to make that easy for them:

  • Set the tone from the top;
  • Host sustainability events and workshops;
  • Give your team the tools to act consciously in the office. 

Build a company culture around sustainability, and you’ll find it easier to retain and hire the best people.

Give your employees a voice

Part of a strong workplace culture is giving every member of the team a voice. 

Your employees are the ones who’ll be working to implement and maintain high standards of sustainability. That’s why it’s essential to give them a platform to share their ideas and best practices. 

Making them an integral part of the company’s sustainability goals will help boost employee engagement

Review and improve standards

Once you commit your company to a sustainable future, it’s important to review your targets each quarter and continue to improve year on year.

You may even want to hire a sustainability specialist dedicated to building and improving the company’s sustainability plan. 

Build a sustainable mobility plan

Companies have a responsibility to build a sustainable mobility plan. The importance of this is clear from the numbers: 

If your team isn’t driving company vehicles or their own cars, you won’t need many parking spaces, which is a great way to cut costs.

Bolt’s vision for a sustainable future

We want to build better cities for people. And we’re striving to achieve that by offering efficient, environmentally friendly mobility alternatives to personal cars. This will improve quality of life in several ways: 

  • Reducing traffic;
  • Minimising accidents;
  • Relieving public space;
  • Decreasing emissions and noise pollution;
  • Making transportation more accessible and affordable.

Read more in our Green Plan.

Encouraging a move towards efficient transport

We launched the Bolt Green category in 51 cities across Europe and Africa, giving your team the chance to travel by:

  • Electric vehicle;
  • Hybrid-electric vehicle;
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Over 9,000 zero and low-emission vehicles were available on the Bolt platform in 2021. And those vehicles covered a distance of 44 million kilometres in 2021. We’re adding to this supply at such a rate that our adoption is three times higher than the general market across 20 countries. 

Having these vehicles available isn’t enough, though. It’s important to make sure riders are using them, too. That’s why discounts are available for Green category rides during peak congestion hours.

While this is all good news, finding car alternatives for shorter journeys will make business travel even more sustainable. And we’re helping there too. 

Move with green mobility

The CO2 emissions of an electric scooter are three times lower than a car. And they help to lower congestion within cities, too. 

With Bolt Business, your team can travel for work on a Bolt scooter. Doing this will put your company’s mobility plan on the right track towards sustainably. They’re also a fast and affordable option for short work rides that increase morale amongst your employees.

Make it easy for your team to travel on Bolt scooters by joining Bolt Business.

Climate-positive Bolt electric scooter parked outside an office

Build a sustainable mobility plan with Bolt Business

Making it possible for your team to travel for work with Bolt Business is a simple step toward a sustainable future for your company. 

Every time a team member travels with Bolt, we measure the emissions and invest in carbon offset projects to reduce your impact. Projects we’ve supported include:

  • Improved cookstoves, Kenya;
  • Concentrated Solar Power, South Africa;
  • Coppertown Wind Power, South Africa;
  • Solar Energy and Mobile Payment, East Africa;
  • West India Wind Power, India;
  • Improved Water Infrastructure, Sub-Saharan Africa.

By doing this, all Bolt Business rides taken in Europe are carbon-neutral.

Emissions are tracked, reported, and offset

Every time a team member travels with Bolt Business, their journey is tracked — allowing admins to monitor the distance travelled by individuals and teams. 

Admins can view every trip taken by each team member from the Bolt Business dashboard. And it’s possible to export a complete ride report (all-time or monthly) showing distance, duration, and vehicle type — which gives full visibility of how your team travels for work.

Then speak to your Account Manager about getting a Carbon Offset Certificate. This certificate proves that we’re neutralising the emissions from these trips and shows: 

  • Emissions generated;
  • Total kilometres travelled;
  • Proof the emissions have been offset.

Bolt Business Carbon Offset Certificate

Move towards a sustainable future with Bolt Business

Setting out on the road to a sustainable future is important for businesses and can take time. But when it comes to business travel, it couldn’t be easier. 

With Bolt Business, we offset the emissions of your team’s work rides in Europe — and there are plenty of green travel options too. 

As well as doing your bit for the planet, you can cut your travel costs, too — as these customer success stories prove.


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