By James Manktelow and the Mind Tools Team

Green Management

Taking Steps Towards a Greener Brand

fluorescent light bulb

© iStockphoto

Environmental issues are a touchy subject. They continue to polarize opinion, particularly when it comes to government policy and the long-term view.

Regardless of your personal views on the subject, however, it's clear that green initiatives are fundamentally important for some consumers. In fact, companies' environmental efforts (or lack of them) are increasingly being seen as "deal breakers" for many choice-rich, time-poor customers.

Big names such as Microsoft® and Wal-Mart® are now working on major green initiatives such as harnessing renewable energy, and this both differentiates them and enhances the power of their brands.

Likewise, green issues appeal to employees. Most people want to be part of "something good," and this includes being green. According to one report, companies that have good green credentials have higher staff morale, see less staff turnover, and can attract and retain top talent more easily.

In this article, we'll outline examples of successful green management – including highlighting companies that have saved costs – and show how small steps can positively impact your organization.

Why Green Management Matters

Apart from the intrinsic benefit of looking after the environment, the biggest boon for organizations that address green issues is an improved brand and company image, according to a report published by MIT Sloan Management Review.

The impact is felt internally – with companies seeing a noticeable improvement in team members' belief in the quality of the organization and its mission – and externally, because it is easier to attract and retain top talent.

Employee health can represent another significant reason for moving towards green management. For example, improving indoor air quality and avoiding strong chemical cleaning agents can help those who suffer from respiratory illnesses or skin conditions. This can result in less absenteeism and greater productivity.

Becoming greener can help you improve relationships with customers, suppliers, government agencies, and the media. Many people and institutions now expect organizations to reduce their impact on the environment, and when your company is seen as a "good corporate citizen" (and can provide quantifiable evidence of this), it appeals powerfully to these expectations.

Green initiatives can also reduce costs. The savings depend on the size of your organization and the steps you take to reduce energy consumption, but some businesses have seen utility bills fall by 20 percent or more.

Businesses in all industries benefit. For example:

  • Office chain Staples® saved $4.2 million each year simply by changing the light bulbs in its stores and offices, and another $1.5 million by making delivery trucks more energy-efficient.
  • Chemical maker DuPont® estimates that it has saved $3 billion from its efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Global coffee chain Starbucks® is on track to reduce its energy consumption by 25 percent, which will result in substantial company-wide savings.

Finally, green initiatives can stimulate innovation. Some companies have discovered new sources of revenue – or even entirely new products – after starting sustainability efforts. Others have found that going green has helped them manage risks more effectively, enter new markets, use resources more efficiently, and improve their competitive position.

Seven Steps to a Greener Office

So, what can you do to "green" your office? Start by considering the steps below...

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