Kent Gregoire is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member and founder of Symphony Advantage, a boutique consulting company. As the world's seventh certified Conscious Capitalism consultant, he helps organizations unleash their entrepreneurial spirit for good. We asked Kent how entrepreneurs can run a successful business while simultaneously elevating the planet. Here's what he shared:
The number of climate-related disasters jumped 83 percent in the last 20 years, from 3,656 events between 1980 and 1999 to 6,681 since 2000. Major floods have more than doubled, severe storms have risen 40 percent, and we've witnessed significant increases in droughts, wildfires, and heat waves.
Too many companies place profits ahead of environmental stewardship, and we're experiencing the deadly consequences. While capitalism remains the most powerful system for stimulating human ingenuity and progress, it's also the most significant contributor to climate change. And each time an extreme weather event occurs, businesses and supply chains suffer in an obvious lose-lose scenario.
What if there was a way that capitalism wasn't one-sided?
There is! Conscious capitalism represents capitalism at its best -- serving society's needs, not just those of executives and shareholders. It was founded on the belief that the very tenets of capitalism can be leveraged to positively impact people and the planet while making profits. Approaching business with a conscious capitalism mindset has numerous benefits. In addition to helping reverse the effects of climate change through efficient use of natural resources and reducing pollution and waste, a sustainable company lowers purchasing costs, encourages innovation, and mitigates overall risks.
Four Strategies for Building a Sustainable Company
The practice of putting the planet above profits is no small feat. It requires establishing environmental standards and goals, building a sustainable supply network with alignment among all stakeholders, and holding everyone accountable. However, a growing number of companies understand the importance of this work to protect the future of our planet. And when the private sector pivots to serve the greater good, its influence is immense.
Here are four strategies you can implement to pivot toward a sustainable business model:
Commit to sustainability.
Pledge your respect for the planet and humanity by committing to fair labor practices, environmental protections, and sustainable procurement practices. Reject short-term gains that lead to long-term harm. Require all business partners, vendors, and suppliers to follow your company's sustainability policy. Join organizations such as the Responsible Business Alliance and United Nations Global Impact, which are dedicated to promoting social, environmental, and ethical business practices.
Build a sustainable supply network.
Create an ecosystem where sustainable practices flow from you throughout your supply network. Be selective with procurement practices -- incorporate sustainability requirements such as certified cradle-to-grave carbon life cycle analyses on all products your company purchases from an accredited firm into RFPs and contracts. Conduct risk assessments on suppliers to ensure they abide by all environmental legislative conditions and have sustainability programs aligned with yours.
Provide sustainability training.
Approach the responsibility of sustainability as a joint initiative. Help suppliers establish and grow their own programs so that they are better positioned to achieve sustainability goals.
Hold yourself and supply partners accountable.
Establishing a policy is only one small part of the equation. You must ensure adherence to it. Conduct internal audits and require suppliers to report sustainability metrics. Reward stakeholders that hit cost, quality, delivery, and sustainability benchmarks.
The United States recently reentered the Paris Climate Agreement -- a step in the right direction. Still, it's the responsibility of every company to join the fight. Conscious capitalism brings out the best in all of us, reminding us that we're ultimately one big community, inextricably linked. By aligning these efforts with profits, we help ensure our planet remains healthy and sustainable for generations to come. That's the very definition of higher purpose.