A recent Nielsen study shows more than 50% of global consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. At the same time, 80% of CEOs see sustainability as a competitive advantage in their industry. Consumers, employees and shareholders want the brands and companies they trust to embrace sustainability. But for an individual company, it’s a vast undertaking. What do you measure? How do you track it? How do you begin to do energy and sustainability audits of a geographically diverse footprint? How do you understand what’s happening in your supply chain? This is where leading companies have realized they can work together to build the change necessary to make a difference on a worldwide scale.
Schneider Electric building partnerships in retail sustainability
A great example of this type of collaboration is the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a group of sustainability leaders. These are some of the most well-known brands in the world, and the focus of their group is The Higg Index – “a suite of assessment tools that standardizes the measurement of the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products across the product lifecycle and throughout the value chain.” Last week, SAC members gathered in Vietnam to “demonstrat[e] results of scaling Higg Index adoption throughout the industry, and collectively shift towards unprecedented systems-wide change in service of achieving our 2020 vision.” With an intuitive interface and open access to all SAC members, the Higg Index is a critical tool for collaboration in the industry. In fact, the SAC and Schneider Electric were awarded the Environmental Leader Project of the Year award for the most recent technology upgrade to the index. We were also particularly honored to present “Essentialism in Big Data” at the meeting, a huge topic for many industries as of late, including sustainability-minded retailers.
We’re also proud to work closely with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). We recently partnered with RILA to create a Retail Energy Management Program Maturity Matrix. This matrix helps retail energy managers assess the current status of their energy management programs, and build a realistic roadmap of how to improve. In an optimized organization, “all components of the virtuous cycle function at full capacity and will run smoothly to improve the performance of the energy consuming systems, generating maximum financial and environmental returns.” And by the way, these financial returns can be very significant. Optimizing their energy usage can provide as much of an impact to their gross margin as increasing sales intensities by 10%! RILA is helping their members tap into a powerful and often overlooked opportunity.
Sustainable brands outperform the market
Think about your next trip to your local market or the mall. Will you seek out sustainable brands? Not sure? Would it help to have a list? Why not consider the Global 100, a list of the world’s most sustainable companies. (We’re proud to be in the Top 10.) Even if you don’t research the products you buy, keep this in mind when you’re deciding which stocks fit your investment portfolio: The Global 100 out-performed its benchmark, the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI), by 7.29% from its inception on February 1st, 2005 to March 31st, 2014. These industry leaders know that they’re driving performance with sustainability, and in today’s hyper-competitive markets, if you are not leading, you are falling behind.
If you’re interested in sustainability and would like more information, leave a comment below or click for more information. Download our whitepaper, “A Practical Guide to Sustainability & Energy Management in Retail Environments”, here.
Read my previous post on death, taxes and energy management software.
 The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility
 The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability