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Building a Sustainable B2B Company

Keslio Team
 minute read  
July 2, 2024
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Sustainability can look different for each business as certain ESG issues are unique, inherent, or of great importance and concern to specific industries and sectors. For example, transportation and logistics companies can be primarily concerned about shifting towards renewable and clean energy sources for their fleets. A company that produces consumer goods finds themselves building strategies and initiatives that minimize waste across their entire value chain. A construction company looks for ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease emissions for their new projects and retrofit their current portfolio.

Every business has a role to play in this journey towards sustainable development. Regulations and policies on net-zero emissions, clean energy, proper waste management, and social responsibility affect all sectors. With the emergence of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), affected companies must practice stricter due diligence when screening and evaluating their suppliers. Suppliers are then compelled to uphold new sustainable practices in order to keep up with policies and regulations and ensure that their business can adapt to risks and threats brought by climate change.

Whether they offer products or services, B2B companies and their sustainability initiatives can impact not just their business but other stakeholders. Building a sustainable B2B company can strengthen and retain relationships with customers and give the company a competitive advantage. The weight of sustainability in decision-making and supplier screening is increasing over time. By integrating sustainability across functions, a B2B company can take part in sustainable development and global progress.

Sustainable B2B Business Practices

Materiality Assessments and Value Chain Analysis

Before shifting towards more sustainable practices, a B2B company needs to first assess the areas where they can make the most impact and the risks and threats that may affect the business. By first understanding their current operations, a business can determine where they can improve. For example, an accounting firm might be more concerned towards building financial sustainability, job creation, and customer and employee satisfaction, whereas, a manufacturer of automobile parts would address the sustainability of their suppliers of metals and raw materials. 

Conducting a double materiality assessment can help a B2B company discover critical areas with high impact on the company and high relevance on their stakeholders. Evaluating both its financial and ESG-related impact can build more concern, awareness, and urgency, touching on points that can greatly affect the business in the long-run.

In addition to materiality assessments where the business engages with stakeholders to discover sustainability-related concerns, a B2B can also look deeper into their value chain, starting from their key suppliers and the end-of-life state of their products or services. Being sustainable can also entail the need to reassess upstream and downstream operations. This can mean looking into greenhouse gas emissions, supplier practices, energy efficiency, and waste generation and management. By understanding today’s practices, a B2B can start building for the future. 

Sustainability Goals and Objectives

Having clear goals and objectives give companies a vision and motivation to be sustainable. This sets the foundation for incorporating sustainability into everyday business practices, policies, and corporate governance. These goals will vary depending on the B2B company’s sector. Logistics companies may aim for net zero emissions and clean energy for their vehicles and fleets. A construction company will also look into emissions reduction and waste management during production. Firms will look into reducing ESG risk. The goals of a software as a service (SaaS) company may lean more towards making their platform or their office equipment more energy efficient. 

Outside these environmental goals, B2B companies may also focus on social and governance goals such as improved data privacy in their cloud services, customer satisfaction, contributing to sustainable development for their clients, and ethical and transparent governance. These goals and objectives are unique to each company, thus requiring tailor-fit strategies that can achieve sustainable development not just for the company but also for their customers.

Supplier Engagement

Improving sustainability can be achieved by starting with supplier engagement as their products and services can also add up to the B2B company’s sustainability performance. It is important to communicate sustainability with suppliers by informing them of your company’s goals towards sustainability and how these can affect current and future dynamics between the two parties. 

When engaging with suppliers, ask them questions regarding their business practices and if they also have set standards, policies, and initiatives that achieve their own sustainability goals. How are they acquiring their raw materials? If they engage in agriculture, how do they manage waste, water, and their land? Are their workers under safe working conditions? Are their practices aligned with industry standards and local and international regulations? How can their clients guarantee credibility? A B2B company is also a supplier in the eyes of other businesses. By asking suppliers questions the company themselves may get from their own customers, a B2B company can engage sustainability across sectors.

One way to also get to know suppliers is to read their current sustainability reports and other business practices. This can help gauge their current performance and future plans. This also builds conversations on how the two companies can support each other in their own paths towards sustainability. Businesses have the power to encourage suppliers to be more sustainable. By having engaging dialogue and sharing key resources and knowledge on complex sustainability topics, businesses can collaborate and work together for sustainability.

Customer Engagement

As a company working closely with other businesses, a B2B can practice sustainability by communicating with their clients on how the business is in the process of adopting sustainability and how these changes can impact their customers’ operations. Stakeholder engagement is crucial in achieving sustainability. As mentioned before, stakeholders, through discussions and surveys, can provide external insights on practices and ESG factors the B2B company needs to address. Continuously engaging with stakeholders can also help support their own initiatives, from improving responsible sourcing to transparent and accurate sustainability reporting.

Communicating sustainability with customers and potential leads can retain clients who are aligned with their goals and objectives and also attract more customers who are seeking sustainable businesses to work with. This engagement increases awareness in practicing sustainability within the sector and driving other companies to improve their ESG performance across their operations. The more a business communicates their sustainability performance and commitments, the more we develop a culture of sustainable business.

Sustainable and Efficient Technology

Businesses today rely on technology to maintain and even improve or enhance their operations. However, great amounts of energy consumption and emissions can threaten the planet and contribute to climate change. This then translates into rising temperatures that can affect the ecosystems in which businesses source their raw materials from and even day-to-day operations as erratic changes in weather can impact productivity, health, and safety.

In order to mitigate the impacts of climate change, governments have developed policies and targets that drive companies to contribute towards net-zero. B2B companies can take part in this initiative by investing in climate technology, ranging from solar panels, decarbonization and carbon accounting platforms and programs, and transitioning their equipment with energy efficient or low-carbon alternatives. Processes can also be improved to minimize waste and energy consumption. This lessens their carbon footprint and risk towards the planet.

Sustainability in the Workplace

Strategies focused on improving sustainability performance may not fully be effective if teams are not fully committed to or informed about sustainability and how it impacts them. Fostering a culture of sustainability boosts motivation and dedication to contribute to the company’s sustainability goals.

Developing a culture of sustainability begins with building awareness on how sustainability affects themselves as individuals, as members of the company, and as members of the communities and groups they fall under. Awareness can build urgency and a desire to seek or develop solutions that improve their work. By informing employees about the sustainability goals the company hopes to achieve, this, along with a personal commitment and motivation, can kickstart sustainability from within the business.

However, the complex landscape of sustainable development, with its jargon related to climate science, policies and regulations, and the evolving and dynamic solutions that emerge each year, navigating sustainability can be confusing. Thus, leadership also needs to retain this culture of sustainability by developing training programs and supplementing teams with resources that increase their knowledge on sustainability topics. Additionally, sustainability can also increase job opportunities by hiring experts that specialize in sustainability and ESG.

Sustainability in the workplace requires active participation and engagement. As teams implement ways to improve systems and processes, businesses should also ensure employees and workers have safe and healthy working conditions as these improve social targets, employee retention, productivity, and satisfaction. Reevaluate infrastructure, resources, and how they manage their offices and plants can also enhance sustainability in the workplace. For example, a business can convert facilities into green spaces and infrastructure by lowering emissions and improving water and waste water management, shifting to paperless operations, or properly disposing of electronic waste. Sustainability in a B2B can span the entire business, reaching all ends of a value chain and the company’s internal operations and working conditions.

Enhanced Credibility and Trust

Assurance and verification can boost credibility and let customers and clients know that the B2B company they work with is sustainable in practice. Voluntarily publishing annual sustainability reports informs stakeholders of the business’s progress and enhances transparency. A B2B company can enhance credibility and trust by reporting their sustainability performance and acquiring certifications and ratings that ensures a commitment to sustainability. For example, a construction company can have their developments certified as green buildings and tech providers can have their products certified as energy efficient. Through ratings and certifications, a B2B company can strengthen its reputation as a sustainable business.


The definition of sustainability can vary depending on the company and its sector. By properly assessing and managing internal and external ESG risks, a B2B company can transform their business, gearing them towards a sustainable future. It is important to remember that overall sustainability is a continuous process that may require iterations and improvements in order to adapt to global changes while yielding positive financial outcomes. Starting early can help sustain a B2B company’s operations, improve client retention, and set the stage for sustainable development.

At Keslio, we are deeply passionate about sustainability, equipping us with the expertise and extensive network needed to guide clients through their sustainability journey effectively and efficiently. Our expertise is particularly valuable for companies looking to embed sustainability practices into their businesses and investors looking to integrate ESG and impact into investment portfolios. To learn more about how Keslio can assist your organization on its sustainability journey, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

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