Why a sustainability culture is key to your channel ecosystem

Posted by Dan Kelly

The tide is truly changing and many companies are looking for ways to counteract environmental impact by ensuring environmental sustainability plays a key part in their company moving forward. But what does it mean to be a sustainable business in 2020? And why would this impact your channel relationships?

Climate change has been a pressing issue for many years, and never more so than now. With the industrial revolution and now industry 4.0, businesses across sectors have had to face the fact that environmental sustainability needs to be a standard part of business practice, and embedded in operations. This is no exception in the technology sector, for example data centres currently consume about 2% of worldwide electricity. However many of the world’s leading technology companies are acting, for example Google and Apple have committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2020.

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You’re only as sustainable as your least sustainable channel partner

Behind every business is a collection of consumers, and consumer demand has been an important driver towards sustainable practices in recent years. Over a quarter of millennials (27%) think businesses should try to improve and protect the planet, and they want to buy from and work with companies that share their values.

This works similarly for channel relationships. Partners are increasingly looking for vendors that share their values, and in 2020 this this means vendors who are taking environmental practices to the next level. With supply chains and product lines increasingly interconnecting organisations, one company’s actions can have a ripple effect on other vendors, channel partners, and ultimately the end customer. If the quarter of millennials mentioned above need to buy a new laptop, they’ll take their business to the vendor that’s committed to environmental practices. It’s no longer a case of maintaining an environmentally responsible business, but an environmentally responsible channel ecosystem.

Embracing a collective mission

Some vendors have been committed to activities such as recycling for years, and some have taken further steps to go completely paperless, add solar panels to buildings or even provide electric vehicles in a sales fleet. Many now even build sustainability objectives into annual strategies. The key is to have a collective and measurable goal, such as a 10% reduction in carbon footprint, and foster a culture across the business that would enable this goal.

As a solution provider, we’re always looking for new ways to help our clients implement sustainable initiatives. One way to help employees adopt your sustainability strategy is to reward them when they log their participation through online incentive programmes. By recording their sustainable practices employees can accumulate points and gain rewards for sustainability in the same way sales figures are tracked through CRM systems and sales teams subsequently rewarded.

This strategy can be adopted internally, but it can also apply to vendors rewarding their channel partners. Vendors are now using online reward platforms with APIs that allow them to connect to other platforms and track sustainability performance across vast partner ecosystems. Bringing sustainability and work goals into one place unites workers in their aims, creating a sense of unity and motivation, and a more eco-friendly channel.

Digital alternatives are also being chosen in order to create a culture of sustainability. Businesses can now host ‘virtual reality conferences’ where customers, partners or employees can connect using interactive tools in an immersive environment to simulate the impact of a physical event. This enables global partner ecosystems to stay more connected.

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Changing environments to support environmental change

Environmental aims can also tie in with changes in office culture. We’re also seeing more companies making small changes within the workspace to encourage sustainable practices. This could be something as simple as bringing water fountains into the office in lieu of plastic bottles and some may even move to ban plastic from the workplace entirely. Offices can also add recycling points in convenient locations, such as the kitchen. Taking such steps in the office not only encourages more responsibility in current employees, but work to make the business more sustainable as a whole. Similarly, over the last few years, more companies have implemented flexible working strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of daily communising.

Although global travel is not advised in the current climate, businesses have recently offered more travel incentives that encourage sustainability. Companies can offer eco-trips as rewards to more sustainably focused countries, such as Finland, Switzerland or Costa Rica. These trips can feature environmentally minded activities like gorilla treks or shark diving.

Sustainability has gone from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have, and it’s no surprise that both vendors and channel partners feel the need to make it a focus. By prioritising sustainability in aspect of your company, you’re no longer just doing your civic duty, but contributing to a positive new era in business.


For more ideas on creating a sustainable culture, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.

As a founding partner of CR Worldwide in 2002, Dan helped develop the company from a start-up business into the multi-million global brand it is today.