Sustainability will only be effective if it is deeply embedded across the organization; from leadership to employees at all levels, implementing sustainability lenses to our every-day company work is key for advancing planet-positive change.
While most organizations have taken deliberate steps to set out sustainability objectives such as net zero emissions or resource circularity plans, actual progress in the matter seems to suggests something is not quite working.
Ambition is important, and so is setting objectives that will help take companies to more sustainable ways of doing business; however, if such objectives and values are not engrained in the very people and what they know to be the company’s purpose, ambition will most likely fall flat.
The following paragraphs aim to address some key actions or initiatives that organizations can take to make sustainability an intrinsic part of the business strategy by implementing sustainability lenses across the company. Let’s dive in.
Putting on the sustainability lenses
One of the most common mistakes among companies newly (and not so newly) approaching sustainability, is to make the latter some kind of an external element to business strategy instead of integrating sustainable targets such as net-zero, for example, into the core of the strategy.
Companies need to forget about the fear of sustainability interfering with day to day work, and viceversa, and understand the latter as something to be intertwined with everything that they do.
In other words, the only way a company can achieve a net zero emission target is by committing every task, person and value of the company with it. From finance departments to marketing campaigns and human resources, ambitious planetary goals should have a holistic approach in the business structure and its operations.
Engage employees in the sustainability strategy
Furthermore, company governance should put in place a progress measuring framework that encompasses sustainability into its metrics, instead of a separate ESG score that can eventually undermine sustainability and not consider it as a crucial aspect of the business’ holistic progress.
But how can we, in fact, start implementing sustainability lenses across the organization?
Learning to delegate
Hierarchies tend to rule most organizations’ structure, and there should be no apparent problem with it if done correctly. The problem lies in hierarchical structures that fail to delegate sustainability responsibilities and consequently cannot actively empower employees to act upon it.
Sustainability targets and responsibilities need to go beyond the C-suite and across functions and departments at all business levels, helping empower teams of people that can drive sustainable change faster and more effectively; otherwise it will rarely get to the list of executive priorities.
Perhaps one of the most crucial tasks companies face today is empowering and engaging employees in sustainability efforts.
That being because of the requirements of legislation, or the very nature of the social and environmental crisis we are facing, it has never been more important to work together towards a common purpose.
But this is not a new idea, nor one that is necessarily or solely a matter of sustainability. Change within an organization can only happen if the very reasoning and rationale for change is engrained in every single person.
It is important for organizations to deliver such rationale properly from the bottom up and be able to explain not only why change matters, but also how change can bring tangible and positive impact. It is however important to understand how the narratives for change can and will most likely differ depending on the business level.
Communicate change through insightful data
As they say, we are all in this together, and so communication across industries, actors in society, stakeholders etc. is key to understanding progress as much as that which may be blocking it.
But the lack of insightful data can undermine sustainability and other strategic elements of the company. It is information and the sharing of such information that can enable effective leadership and good decision making as it allows organizations to see the full picture.
Otherwise we would all just be working on our own little bubbles without engaging with those who may have different, and perhaps, better perspectives on issues as important as sustainability.
A guide to good corporate governance
Engage employees in the sustainability strategy
In DoGood we believe that working collectively can help us find that which alone may seem unattainable or useless and instead create a collective and individual eagerness to make a difference, both for the sustainability and purpose of the company and a more sustainable way of being for all employees.
Through our technology we help companies establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company, activating and tracking employees’ impact, and creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.