What are you doing for the planet?
By J. Lenora Bresler, J.D., SPHR, ASC
A report from Go for the Greens Conference September 19-20, 2013
If you are a woman-owned business seeking to gain a contract with any major company in America these days, you must expect this question. It is no longer merely about low bid or quality or reliability. This is especially true for those companies who have departments set aside for sustainability initiatives and/or diversity/minority business.
Panelists at the recent NAWBO-sponsored Go for the Greens conference emphasized that being proactive about explaining your sustainability initiatives is a great way to set yourself apart from competitors. Those companies committed to sustainability have goals and they need to work with companies who can help them meet those sustainability goals – that could be you! Therefore, you need to have clear initiatives in the three components of today’s sustainability movement: people, planet, profit.
If you are trying to do business with a large company, research its website and see what its annual sustainability report is measuring. This will show you specifically what the company cares about, and then you should highlight your efforts -- small as they may be -- and mirror them back to the company whose business you are trying to get. Don’t worry if you are a very small business and think your efforts to conserve energy are negligible. You are still a company with sustainability initiatives.
For certain, most companies will want to know what you are doing to “be green,” meaning to reduce waste, energy consumption, etc. in your own small business. They may also ask you if you are dealing with vendors and suppliers who are also seeking to be conscious of not only the environment but fair trade practices, fair compensation, etc. Some may ask you about your community involvement and what local causes your business supports and what good events your business sponsors.
Panelists at Go for the Greens suggested that you merge your sustainability initiatives into your marketing plan. You should view sustainability not merely as “a good thing to do,” but a SMART thing to do for business and something that can definitely give you a competitive edge!