Here's a super simple test to help you find out whether you're an old-school entrepreneur or a forward-thinking one. Do you baulk at the phrase 'sustainability in business'? If you do - then it's time to re-think your worldview (and business strategy).
The truth is that traditional ways of measuring business performance don't account for the needs of all stakeholders. Businesses - both large and small - need to consider the bigger picture: employees, customers, shareholders as well as community members. Integrating sustainability practices into the business model itself is a fantastic way to secure sustainability over the long-term.
If you need more convincing that businesses can (and do) gain strategic advantage by embracing sustainability, check out these 5 inspiring TED talks and be prepared to have a prompt change of heart.
1. The Surprising Thing I Learned Sailing Solo Around the World - Dame Ellen MacArthur
After completing a solo sailing around the world trip in 2004 in a mere 71 days - thus becoming the fastest person to travel the globe - Dame Ellen Macarthur was inspired to launch the Elen MacArthur Foundation, which works with government and business with the aim to transition from a wasteful, 'traditional', linear economy to a circular economy. In this TED talk, Dame Ellen MacArthur explains why she was inspired to pursue this goal and why you, too, should seek to pursue a circular business model.
2. Magical Houses Made of Bamboo - Elora Hardy
Bamboo builder and Ibuku founder Elora Hardy serves as the perfect example that sustainability at the core of a business model can not only be profitable and popular but also beautiful. Listen to this TED talk and hear her explain why bamboo is the material in the future and the importance of reconnecting with nature.
3. Let's Go All In on Selling Sustainability - Steve Howard
"Sustainability has gone from a nice-to-do to a must-do,” says Steve Howard, the chief sustainability officer at IKEA. Here, he talks about his goal to sell eco-friendly materials and practices and the challenges that other global giants face in the face of pursuing sustainable practices.
4. Profit's Not Always the Point - Harish Manwani
Harish Manwani is the COO of global giant Unilever, which is partly why it's surprising to hear him talk about profit not always being the point. However, in this powerful TED talk, Manwani makes a passionate argument that value, purpose and sustainability absolutely must be at the core of top-level decision making. Check it out.
5. How to Make Profit While Making a Difference - Audrey Choi
Can global capital markets really be catalysts for positive change? Audrey Choi, an investment expert, argues that because individuals own almost half of all global capital, we have genuine power to make a difference by investing in companies that champion sustainability and social values. Listen to the full talk below.