Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability and Air Quality in 2022
January is the time of year when many companies look to enhance their corporate social responsibility. If you are embarking on a sustainability strategy in 2022, particularly in regards to air quality, we’ve put together this guide to help you find out where to focus your efforts.
Why 2022 is the right time to focus on a sustainability strategy
It has never been more important to focus on how to improve sustainability as a company. Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever about the responsibility of companies to improve their self-regulation to contribute to societal goals, and it’s easy to see why.
2021 ended with COP 26 in Glasgow, which reinforced the importance of taking sustainable actions sooner rather than later in order to save our planet. (We highly recommend taking a look at the 7 best speeches of COP 26 when you have a moment!) Climate change is not going away while Covid-19 has forced us to rethink how we live our lives on a daily basis.
From air quality purification and management to an eco-friendly approach to business, 2022 is the year to truly act on promises and contribute to creating a better future for all. If not now, when?
Proof that sustainability and corp social responsibility is on the rise
Conversations about sustainability are maturing with more people searching to improve their businesses than ever before. In the last 3 months, Google reports that there has been a 900% increase in searches for ‘corp social responsibility’ and ‘sustainable companies’. If you are looking to learn more about these subjects and how improving air quality can play a role in enhancing environmental, social and corporate governance at your business, then this article is for you!
Alongside this, air quality has never been more talked about. In the UK, wearing masks is currently mandatory for secondary school students while ventilation and improving air quality within classrooms is a high level priority with the Department for Education expected to publish guidelines on air purification soon.
Why having a sustainability strategy is important at all levels
In order for a sustainability strategy to work, everyone needs to be on board. It is a challenge for everybody to contribute towards, with each stakeholder becoming more keenly aware of not taking action.
Which trends are happening amongst the end users - consumers and customers?
The end user - most often consumers and customers - are actively making choices based on corporate social responsibility and how well businesses are looking after the environment. Boohoo saw its stock market price fall by 68% in 2021 as consumers started to think more about fast fashion and how they can contribute to a healthier planet. Almost 1 in 3 people have claimed to stop buying from certain brands due to ethical or sustainability concerns while 61% have limited their use of single-use plastic.
With the rise of social media, it is easier than ever to find out what people think of your company and business, especially in the teen demographic via sites such as Instagram and TikTok. Paying attention to consumer trends and making meaningful change is one way that companies can enhance their approach in 2022.
Which trends are happening at the business level?
Large companies are paving the way when it comes to putting forward ideas about a sustainability strategy in 2022. This makes sense because large companies are more likely to be listed on the stock exchange, so are held accountable by their investors, while they are also more likely to have the manpower to think more about sustainability over the long term.
Accountancy and consulting firms including KPMG, PWC, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte have all published guides or suggestions on sustainability, with Accenture writing about shaping a sustainable organisation. Amazingly, although 90% of executives think sustainability is important, only 60% have a sustainability strategy.
At least this is starting to change. Companies are rethinking their approach to sustainability and corporate social governance as well. IKEA will now buy back and resell their furniture from customers, Amazon has committed to become net-zero on carbon by 2040, and Mars has pledged for net zero emissions by 2050. These follow in the footsteps of longstanding sustainably-focused companies such as Patagonia.
Which trends are happening at the investor level?
More money than ever before has been ploughed into the stock market over the last year with Apple recently becoming the first three trillion dollar company. Investors and companies are becoming increasingly aware that they have to do more on sustainability and ESG in general with the rise of cryptocurrency being somewhat slowed due to governance and environmental concerns, and 33% of all assets under management in the US being sustainably invested.
Energy firms such as ITM Power have more than quadrupled their stock price since early 2020 as they focus on renewable energy via green hydrogen. Likewise, venture capital firm Octopus Investments has seen huge popularity with Octopus Energy, a subsidiary that offers renewable or offset electricity and gas. Companies have to be careful though with previous popular companies such as Bulb Energy, which also offered renewable energy, going bust in late 2021.
Away from energy, investors and venture capital firms are always interested in predicting market trends and interest in sustainability shows no signs of slowing. As such, plant based food firms and electric vehicle companies have done hugely well on the S&P 500 (Beyond Meat, Tesla and Rivian to name just three.)
It certainly pays to be sustainable in the eyes of the investor!
Which trends are happening at the government level?
Governments have often struggled with sustainability. This is because industries including oil and gas bring in huge amounts of money via tax, while thousands of jobs are created in factories that contribute to carbon emissions. As well as this, it is extremely difficult and expensive for third world countries to rapidly pivot to modern ideas such as renewable energy, especially when using coal or oil is so much cheaper.
Even so, movements are being made with nations coming together at the UN COP 26 in Glasgow at the end of 2021. More must be done to combat climate change and top polluting countries like China and India have pledged to do more (though ultimately watered down the final message). Europe continues to push for sustainability but is held back via countries such as Germany rejecting the EU’s plan for nuclear power, despite being the biggest carbon emitter in the continent - their emissions are twice that of Italy and Poland (second and third place) combined.
The rise of Covid-19 has at least seen countries think more about improving air quality, which is something that consumers, investors and businesses can help to contribute towards.