This article looks into how businesses can make sustainability real. Businesses that make sustainability a core competency of their organisation have a better chance of capturing the opportunities that sustainability presents.
Businesses that take the approach of using sustainability and corporate responsibility as a risk reduction strategy fail to capture the full benefits. This approach is better than being a business that willingly harms society and the environment, but it is not the best approach.
The best approach is to make sustainability the job of everyone in the business. This does not mean that it should be everyone’s number one priority all of the time, but it should certainly be in the top three.
Businesses that fully integrate sustainability into their way of working leave compliance risks from sustainability far behind and can work on solutions to sustainability problems that help their customers succeed.
Let’s now look into three ways companies can make sustainability everybody’s business.
1. Persistent public commitments
Persistent public commitments to sustainability and corporate responsibility help to highlight how the company is determined to do things differently. These should ideally come from senior executives and people with real influence.
This highlights to external stakeholders that the business is committed to responsible practices and demonstrates to employees what is expected of them. It creates a pressure to find sustainable solutions for their own business and for their customers.
In this environment, the business is naturally focussed on the opportunities that sustainability offers.
Partnerships are another way businesses can make sustainability real. These could come from inbound requests or from external prospecting.
Partnerships are the last and one of the most important of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
As a business, this could involve a partnership with another business, a charity and even academia or the government. The important thing is the collaboration and working together to help solve social and environmental problems.
Another way businesses can make sustainability real is by fostering a culture that supports sustainable ideas and innovation.
Without such an organisational culture it will be difficult for any business to make anything beyond meagre progress on sustainability.
An organisational culture that would predict success on sustainability would be one that is highly collaborative, open to trying new things and based on the best ideas rising to the top, regardless of where they have emerged from.
What you need to know
This article looked into how businesses can make sustainability real. The important thing is to make sustainability seamless within the organisation and not a bolt on afterthought.
I have suggested three ways this can be achieved. It can be achieved by persistent public commitments from senior executives at the organisation. I can be achieved by launching new partnerships with other organisations to solve problems related to sustainability. It can also be achieved by fostering an organisational culture that is receptive to new ideas.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
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