So You Want Your Business To Be More Sustainable?
A sustainability initiative can be as simple as eliminating single-use plastic at the office or as complex as calculating your company’s carbon footprint. Where do you start?
It’s no secret that organizations that embrace sustainability are polling better in the eyes of consumers, employees and investors. What may feel elusive is the formula for carving out a path to sustainability if your business is just getting started on this journey.
An organization’s sustainability initiative needs to be authentic and transparent. Everyone can tell when the approach is half-hearted or tokenistic. Take a look at your mission statement. Is there an underlying sense of Purpose there? A rallying cry that is more than a call to maximize profit? No one is saying you have to check every sustainability box immediately, but you do have to be thoughtful about the actions you do choose to take and commit to meaningful change.
There’s a lot of jargon to understand. The terminology around business sustainability is important. The term sustainability itself can be quite confusing. Is your company sustainable because it is managing future business risks for long-term viability? One company may define sustainability narrowly as taking action on environmental issues whereas another company may view both social and environmental impacts as contributing to a sustainable business model. What is the difference between CSR and ESG? Whatever direction your company’s sustainability journey may take, clearly defining and communicating about your efforts is critical to success.
Leadership: The most important step on this journey is leadership. If an organization is serious about implementing a sustainability initiative, the CEO and Board of Directors need to prioritize, fund, and assign an executive team member to lead the effort. It’s all too easy for a company’s sustainability strategies to get lost in the fray of day to day decision making. Incorporating sustainability into a strategic plan and annual work plan, and allocating resources to ensure the efforts will have a chance to blossom, is key. Sustainability leadership is not just top-down, however. Launching a cross-functional “Green Team” will help infuse the company’s culture from the bottom-up, provide key insight into implementation challenges across the organization, and help with troubleshooting/idea generation.
Prioritization: Knowing where to start and what to focus on is tough. We’ve developed a chart to help brands understand and prioritize the different pressures it is facing with regards to implementing a sustainability initiative.
Our team at Planet+Purpose Solutions is dedicated to helping organizations launch their sustainability initiatives and coaching leaders into becoming champions of change. We all need to work together to tackle our collective environmental impact and our team hopes this series of articles will help with those first critical steps of your organization’s journey.