A sustainability manager at a large auto parts manufacturer recently explained the company’s lack of interest in water management this way: “It's not worth our time. Water is too cheap and no one cares." Moreover, the executive acknowledged that even if they did care, they had no idea how to tackle an operational issue that is largely unseen and highly distributed. Doing nothing is a common response, and indicative of the second-class status water still has in much of the business world, including the boardroom.
It’s also a view that is obsolete. Investors worth trillions of dollars have told their portfolio companies in the Fortune 500 in no uncertain terms that they care about water, and view it as a major risk to business. They have ample reasons: a decrease in water quality globally paired with increases in scarcity, regulation and compliance.
Yet this risk has not translated into a broad business response.
That's largely because a compelling business case has not yet been widely acknowledged or understood. Such a business case must look at the overall impact of water management which, for CEOs and CFOs managing risk, must also include multi-faceted financial and operational gains.
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Here are 9 business reasons why executives should care:
All of these, of course, result in the ultimate business case: material financial savings.
Understanding of the true value of water to business is still low. More is needed to quantify the business case. With the increase in data analytics and the adoption of Internet of Things solutions, the coming years will provide increased clarity. But first, businesses and their leaders need to embrace the wave, instead of seeing water as a distraction that isn’t worth caring about.