A call to action is changing the future of business. Regulatory committees, investors, consumers, and employees increasingly call for more socially, environmentally, and economically responsible goods and services.

The market is seeing consumers requesting sustainable products and services through their buying behavior — evidence to which we can see in the numbers. According to a STERN Center for Sustainability Business report, products marketed as sustainable grew more than five times faster than conventionally marketed products and three times faster than the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market. When given choice, today’s consumer is more likely to select the more environmentally responsible option.

Sustainability has become a critical topic for enterprises to reduce emissions and waste, increase circularity, and use socially responsible practices throughout product life cycles. Simply put, business leaders are listening to the customers’ call to buy sustainable products and are looking to address how to make sustainability profitable.

Accenture’s CEO study confirmed that 99% of CEOs from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenues believe sustainability is important to the future success of their business. When it comes to the workforce, research into workplace priorities of millennial and Generation Z employees has found they rank sustainability as a leading concern when evaluating the companies they choose for employment. Sustainability matters; from the products you make and how you make them to the type of talent you can attract can all hinge on your company’s sustainability model.

Even federal governments are stepping in to take action. Recently an alliance of German companies that included SAP called for more tangible measures for climate protection from the federal government. The companies said in a joint statement that Germany must be put on a “clear, reliable, and predictable path to climate neutrality.” With governments requesting action, there is a huge opportunity to engage technologies that optimize carbon emissions, increase operational efficiency by activation of circular business processes, and connect with socially responsible partners to help organizations make better informed decisions.

Accelerate Startups Focused on Sustainability

SAP.iO has the privilege of partnering with startups whose technology assists organizations as they shift their priority toward sustainability. During our work with these companies, we bring them together with SAP customers and can learn firsthand what resonates and what solutions meet the industry’s ever-changing needs.

This year’s fall and winter cohorts alone support a wide variety of sustainability goals:

  • The Future of Work program at SAP.iO Foundry Singapore focuses on helping customers increase the value of their workforce by developing, managing, engaging, and empowering their people to develop a skilled, healthy, and inclusive workforce.
  • The New Mobility program at SAP.iO Foundry Munich helps customers manage connectivity in transport, fleet management, charging and battery management, and automated and autonomous driving.
  • The Sustainability in Retail and Consumer program at SAP.iO Foundry New York helps customers in the retail, consumer products, and fashion industries drive sustainability across the value chain, including circular packaging and responsible and ethical sourcing, as well as responsible design and production.
  • The Sustainability in Energy and Natural Resources program at SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco supports customers in the energy and natural resources industries build sustainable businesses, improve experiences, and manage their environmental footprint and sustainability goals, including compliance, regulation, tracking, and carbon trading.
  • The Circular Economic program at SAP.iO Foundry Paris helps drive circularity for customers in service industries such as passenger and cargo travel and engineering construction and operations by helping redefine the design, production, demand, and supply of products through their use cycles for reusability, waste reduction, and new value creation.

How Customers Can Get Started

Experience shows that the desire to impact sustainability goals coupled with the innovative technology needed to turn the tide must be looked at as a journey instead of a destination. Industries and companies are at different stages of maturity, with requirements in other areas across teams. The challenge is how to make sustainability profitable.

To help customers get started on this journey, SAP.iO begins by initiating an innovation session to define and prioritize the critical sustainability areas. Then they leverage their experience and startup ecosystem to discover innovative solutions specifically for the customers’ business and provide the opportunity to meet with startups to learn about their solutions. Then the customer can pilot and implement startup solutions that will help achieve your sustainability ambitions.

For insights and key takeaways from our past sustainability cohort with Accenture, read the whitepaper, Sustainability: The Next Digital.

Alexa Gorman is senior vice president and global head of SAP.iO Foundries and Intrapreneurship at SAP.
This story originally appeared on LinkedIn.