Shifting conditions open doors for sustainability-driven profits

The business case for integrating sustainability into a company's business model only seems to keep getting better.

That's the finding from a new report out today from MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group. In their survey of 2,600 executives from around the globe, they find that nearly half of the respondents changed their business models in the past year in the face of sustainability opportunities. And 37 percent of executives reported profits from their sustainability efforts -- a 23 percent increase from last year's count.

Growing consumer demand for sustainable products -- and companies looking for lower energy use as energy costs increase -- is driving much of this change.

To illustrate how this shift is occurring, the report draws on the experiences of big corporate players that took the survey, including AT&T, Campbell Soup’s, Dell, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, Sprint, Timberland, UPS and Zipcar. These companies -- which have changed their business models and profited from sustainability efforts -- are dubbed "Sustainability-Driven Innovators" in the report and made up 23 percent of the respondents.

"Sustainability-Driven Innovators see the opportunity differently than do companies that haven't gleaned sustainability's financial rewards," said David Kiron, executive editor at MIT SMR and a coauthor of the report. "They don't dwell on it as a cost issue. They focus on how their efforts can increase market share, boost energy efficiency and build competitive advantage."

Photo of plant being watered provided by SCOTTCHAN via Shutterstock.

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