Why going beyond compliance is good for business

How often have you heard the phrase ‘we want our business to be compliant’ within your company?

Is compliance with legislation such as environmental or health and safety (H&S) legislation not the absolute minimum requirement for businesses? Should aspirations not be pitched much higher? If a company sees compliance as the ultimate aim, they’re ultimately limiting themselves as to the benefits they can achieve by going that one step further.

By adopting a more ambitious performance-based approach to managing their environmental and H&S impacts and risks, the benefits can outweigh the costs to businesses.

Environmental law in particular has a number of complex regulations that change on a regular basis and, without active management, it can be a slippery slope keeping on top of environmental compliance. However, not all business environmental risks are regulated and the opportunities to benefit from effective management of environmental performance can add significant business value.

Take resource efficiency for example. The rising costs of material and energy mean businesses can no longer be uninformed when it comes to the amount of raw materials or energy they consume on a daily basis. While good environmental management offers companies the opportunity to cut costs, the business opportunities can be much greater and aren’t confined to large companies.

Research conducted for the UK Government into the benefits of environmental management to SMEs found over a third felt they had achieved new business sales as a result of their certified Environmental Management System (EMS). Similarly, another third confirmed that they expected new sales to be achieved as a result of their EMS, but could not put a value on it.

On the other hand, other environmental impacts a business has are governed by law. For example, greenhouse gas emissions are largely controlled through a series of regulations and fiscal instruments, mainly from EU level. Complying with regulations that limit greenhouse gas emissions enable businesses to help reduce the impact of climatic events, which are increasing through climate change. These events could be in the form of floods and drought, which can significantly disrupt business operations and supply chains. Building business resilience to a changing climate is a growing feature of environmental management activity, helping to ensure companies can be sustainable and succeed over the long term.

Compliance is merely one element of excellent performance which opens up the possibility of achieving real business benefit in terms of efficiency, sustainability, worker engagement and ultimately ‘ profitability. Think outside the box and identify how effective environmental and H&S management adds to your business and integrating performance measures that aspire to enhance this value.