Why Sustainable Development is Important to Business

November 14 2022

To share its 30-year anniversary with all PR and communications professionals around the globe, the Public Relations Global Network is sharing 30 pearls of wisdom from its senior members and agency leaders.

The 30 pearls – some of the network members’ best tips and advice polished in the past 30 years and dazzling to show direction for the next decades in PR and communications – were published in an eBook at PRGN’s anniversary meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, in May 2022. The eBook is also available for downloads on the opening page of the PRGN website.

Below is one of the 30 pearls from members, expanded to fit PRGN’s regular blog series. It is written by Mark Paterson, Principal of Currie, PRGN's member agency in Melbourne, Australia.

Something any public relations person or business can do today that will make a difference is to embrace sustainable development.

The move will set them up as individuals or companies for success.

Embracing sustainable development means understanding and reporting the social and environmental (non-financial) impacts and risks associated with a company’s operations.

Soon, sustainability reporting will no longer be a choice for almost 50,000 companies in Europe. For those businesses that work with these companies, there will be pressure to do the same.

Non-financial reporting is important for listed and non-listed companies worldwide.

Photo by Jw. on Unsplash

Here are three reasons why sustainable development matters to a business:

  1. The growth of sustainable investing has risen 107.4% since 2012, and accounts for 18% of all assets in the wealth industry. In the U.S., it is even higher at 33%.
  2. One fifth of the world’s 2,000 largest companies aim to be carbon net zero by 2050. The number of net-zero commitments has doubled in less than a year.
  3. Online searches for sustainable goods have risen 71% over the past five years. 90% of consumers care about sustainability when buying goods and services.

Due to the sustainability trend, it is almost certain that the dominant system of corporate governance for the past 50 years, shareholder capitalism, will give way to stakeholder capitalism – a model which espouses that companies should look after all their stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders. 

This is great for people who specialize in managing relationships between clients and the public because stakeholder consultation is part of sustainable development. Consequently, demand for consultants who specialize in sustainability communications is growing.

Sustainability is the new digital. Any person or business that ignores it will be left behind.

My business made the move in 2014 when we were proudly certified as a B-Corporation (a B-Corp uses the power of business to do good for people and planet) and we’ve never looked back.

Mark Paterson
Principal, Currie
Mark is a strategist, storyteller and change agent. He thrives on the big picture and is a champion for sustainability. As a sense-maker and stubborn optimist, he helps organisations find their voice and see their future more clearly. The son of Corgi breeders, Mark would like to change the world for the better.
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