The intersection of business and sustainability continues to grow. Increasingly, both traditional and green companies are tying operations to doing good in order to meet their business objectives.
At a fundamental level, green companies—those that cite decarbonization as a key component of their missions—aim to build profitable businesses that can also contribute to shaping a greener economy, helping create a better future for all.
A growing number of leaders view business success as a multifaceted equation, especially in light of the sizable climate and social equity challenges the world faces.
“I always go back to the reason I started the company to remember what success really means,” said Ross Mackay, Founder and CEO of Daring Foods, a leader in plant-based chicken that seeks to transform the food system. “It’s possible to create a successful business that prioritizes the well-being of employees, social equity and profitability.”
In many cases, balancing purpose and profits does not require added effort. It stems naturally from the original mission of wanting to make a difference for customers, stakeholders and the world at large.
“I don’t see a difference between our mission, our focus on ESG factors and our desire to generate shareholder returns—it’s all baked in,” said John Berger, founder and CEO of residential solar energy company Sunnova Energy International. “ESG permeates everything in our company.”
Daring Foods and Sunnova are just two examples of a new class of enterprises willing to base their businesses on achieving positive, long-term change. In fact, a PwC report identified more than 3,000 climate tech startups that were funded between 2013 and the first half of 2021, collectively attracting nearly 9,000 funding rounds.
“A confluence of factors—including continually growing evidence of climate change and its consequences, increasing visibility of social injustices and inequities, and the global impact felt through the COVID-19 pandemic—has led governments, companies, investors and individuals to not only accept that sustainable practices are needed, but to demand them,” said Allison Fleming, a senior member of JPMorgan Chase’s Green Economy Banking team.
“It’s possible to create a successful business that prioritizes the well-being of employees, social equity and profitability.”
- Ross Mackay, Founder and CEO of Daring Foods
Considering the stakes, organizations and entrepreneurs are stepping up to lead the way toward positive change. For some, this means weaving impact-minded commitments into existing corporate strategies. For others, it means unifying mission and business goals.
“Our business is solving what I think is an existential threat to mankind—and I don’t see our business conflicting with our mission in any way,” Berger said.
Mackay said companies must engineer solutions that are not only innovative, but also accessible to large audiences.
“We intentionally partner with stakeholders who support our mission and understand that, ultimately, we all win if we create a sustainable food system,” he said.
While purpose-driven models are gaining steam, they still face some skepticism. Addressing those challenges may hinge on having a robust plan for communicating with customers, investors, stakeholders and the general public.
Leading green companies are active across different types of media and are passionate about their messages, and they engage on the finer points of both purpose and profitability.
For Mackay and Daring Foods, those ideals translate to proactive transparency.
“As a fast-growing company, there is always some public pressure to show results and hit certain numbers,” Mackay said. “But we work hard to be transparent and quantify the results we are driving toward. We share both internal and external insights that will help our network understand our strategy.”
In terms of outreach, Sunnova walks homeowners through their transitions to solar power and shares information on the diversity of the company’s board with investors—and how that diversity has led to business opportunities.
“Good governance never gets in the way of the mission of the company.”
- John Berger, founder and CEO of Sunnova Energy International
Established businesses can help advance a sustainable economy while managing a healthy and prosperous business by taking a few initial steps.
Mackay recommends starting with an environmental audit. From there, you can identify process changes. While the scope of such a task may be daunting, any positive change you make will snowball.
Don’t feel like you have to aim for “total perfection,” he said. “Change what you can as it makes sense for your business and know it’s OK to have long-term goals. Remember that any small changes made now can add up to a larger impact than you might think," Mackay added.
JPMorgan Chase is helping advance a sustainable and inclusive economy by aiding clients in a transition to a low-carbon world, supporting the development and scaling of green technologies, and minimizing the environmental impact of its own operations. In 2021, the firm financed and facilitated more than $100 billion for green activities—renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation among them—toward its target of $1 trillion for green initiatives over 10 years.
Commercial Banking is committed to developing and advancing our communities. Our recently formed Green Economy Banking team provides industry-specific expertise and tailored solutions to companies that are developing new technologies and other tools to help advance decarbonization and mitigate climate change. For more information or banker assistance, contact the team.
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