Insights5 October 20226 min

Want to make your startup sustainable from the inside out? Take a cue from Oracle

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The daily headlines about deadly hurricanes, severe droughts and skyrocketing energy prices remind us daily of the price of not taking action. Creating a more sustainable world is essential to our future, and every company has to do their part. Startups have innovation and a desire to make a difference on their side, but bigger companies have something to teach us about making an impact too. Here’s some advice about how to build a sustainable business with examples from our partner Oracle.

Making your business model truly sustainable

Do you want to make a positive impact with your company and help shape a more sustainable world? Then it’s important to practice what you preach. We have loads of examples of startups in our community who are doing their part for sustainability, including plant-based dumpling makers Davai Dumplings, circular sunglasses creators YUMA Labs, sharing platform for all kinds of stuff Peerby, carbon accounting software Carbon+Alt+Delete and carbon infrastructure providers ClimateCamp, just to mention a few!

What makes a sustainable business model work? First of all, it has to be profitable: if you can’t attract customers with the right value proposition, then it’s hard to make an impact. A sustainable business is also future-proof, not dependent on limited resources. Resources must also be environmentally friendly, taking into account the big picture of long-term impact. Finally, sustainable businesses give back as much as they take, making sure we don’t deplete the Earth.

Tech can be a great accelerator of green solutions. For example, Oracle’s sustainable computing platform in the cloud helps companies streamline operations while cutting energy consumption. This helps drive business value while reducing environmental impact.

Putting your employees at the forefront of sustainability

Practicing what you preach isn’t just about a sustainable business model. Your employees also play an important role. Sustainability needs to be woven into every aspect of the business, starting with the company’s mission statement. This helps create a company culture where sustainability is prioritised and valued, and helps get everyone on board.

Making sustainability part of your company DNA pays off in many different ways. You can help make an environmental impact, save costs with practices like energy conservation, as well as boost employee engagement and retention. It’s important that founders lead by example here, and co-create sustainable practices with employees. It’s important for team members to see that sustainability is a core value of the company and not just a nod to corporate responsibility delegated to a few designated employees, and that sustainability efforts are rewarded.

Oracle makes a point of making sustainability everyone’s business in different ways. One is recognising Sustainability Champions: employees around the world who are setting an example by directly contributing to a more sustainable future, whether it be by finding eco-friendly ways to run the business or by supporting environmental causes locally and globally. Oracle also encourages employees to get engaged by forming Green Teams driving sustainability in their offices globally. As part of its Corporate Citizenship program, Oracle Volunteers also contribute volunteer hours to environmental causes. Oracle supports also its employees’ philanthropy by matching their personal charitable donations up to a certain amount.

Helping your customers become more aware and purpose-driven

Employees are not the only ones who place value on sustainability: consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, giving companies that can meet their needs in a more sustainable way an edge. With rising inflation and a looming energy crisis, consumers are more prepared to make a shift than ever. As employer organisations Unizo and Comeos found in a survey of 1,600 people in Flanders, 67 percent consciously buy more local and sustainable products, with half being willing to spend more on these even as they are becoming more budget-conscious.

Making sure your company is sustainable from the inside out is an important part of gaining customer trust. Green communications are a way to report your own sustainability progress, as well as to provide your customers with advice on how they can make a difference. Make sure it’s completely sincere and don’t forget to practice what you preach though, lest you be accused of greenwashing. Simply meeting the requirements for certain eco labels while maintaining environmentally harmful practices for example, can end up backfiring and harming your reputation. Once customer trust has been damaged, it’s hard to gain it back!

Today’s customers demand sincerity and transparency, both in B2C and B2B. It’s important to green your whole supply chain, and not just delegate the dirty work. Oracle helps its customers make a difference by driving their desire for sustainability and facilitating them in making a difference both in terms the technology solutions they use as well as the clean and circular Oracle Cloud platform on which they operate. They recognise customers’ success in delivering positive impacts through their Oracle Sustainability Innovation Awards, and help Oracle customers dispose of retired equipment in an environmentally responsible way.

How are you making sustainability a core value for your startup? Together we can make a difference!