With climate change a hot topic on the world stage and the green movement ever expanding, there’s never been a more crucial time for your company to address its environmental and social credentials.
Creating and executing a meaningful sustainability strategy or policy is the first step to not only improving your business’ eco footprint, but it showcases to your customers and clients that you’re committed to doing your part for the planet, your community, and employees.
According to Science Based Targets, over 3,00 major global businesses and financial institutions are working with their initiative to reduce their emissions. Deloitte’s 2022 CxO Sustainability Report revealed that “Australia stands to lose $3.4 trillion by 2070 if we don't act fast, but could gain $680 billion with rapid, focused action.”
In short, the urgency for implementing an impactful sustainability policy has never been more important.
If creating a corporate sustainability strategy is something you’ve not even thought about, or perhaps you just don’t know the best way to action it, follow our useful guide to creating a powerful sustainability strategy that will make a profound difference to the environment, your company culture, and its bottom line.
What is a sustainability strategy?
Quite simply a corporate sustainability strategy is a well-considered re-evaluation of how your organisation plans and operates, demonstrating accountability for its social and environmental impact.
Your sustainability strategy should align well with your economic one to create long-term value for your company by driving growth and performance, but it must tangibly improve its environmental accountability as well.
Entirely unique to your business, it can work within a timeframe of your choosing, like a five-year deadline to achieve certain targets and goals. A sustainability strategy’s main pillars can include:
From CO2 emissions to pollution and waste, consider the impact your organisation has on the environment.
Consider your business’ economic growth and value but by creating new, kinder systems and practices that support sustainability.
Consider what your business can do to tackle social issues like inequality or discrimination. How can it nurture employee development, satisfaction, and engagement?
Does your business employ ethical labour practices? What measures can it take to pay fair wages and improve working conditions so reduce the opportunity for mental and physical harm?
What can your company do to benefit its local community? Does it support any charities, donate products or partner with local groups?
Why create a sustainability strategy?
The benefits of creating and executing a valuable sustainability strategy are many. To convince your organisation why you should adopt one, consider these reasons.
Environmentalism is a hot topic in Australia
While climate change is drastically impacting the entire planet, Australia is feeling its wrath more than ever. With higher than ever temperatures and extreme weather conditions, officials have reported climate change is the biggest threat to the country’s future and security.
With that in mind, showing that your company is consciously willing to tackle this existential problem is an asset to both the environment and your organisation’s profile.
Your competitors are doing it
While all your organisation’s peers and competitors are becoming more sustainably-minded, you don’t want to be the odd one out that appears to not have got the eco memo.
According to KPMG’s 2020 Survey of Sustainability Reporting, 96% of the world’s largest 250 companies report on their sustainability performance. If the world’s biggest companies are owning their accountability, it’s not just a fleeting trend that can be ignored.
You will increase your bottom line
A good sustainability strategy shouldn’t just be for show or partially help the environment, it will also help the bottom line. According to research, S&P 500 companies with sustainability strategies see an 18% higher ROI than those that don’t. By thinking more innovatively you can reduce costs, all the while attracting new customers that are attracted by your eco policies.
How you can influence to make a positive difference
Before you start preparing a corporate sustainability strategy, it’s vital to plot the entire process meticulously to leverage your influence.
To start, establish your organisation’s appetite. Are stakeholders and senior management ready for top-to-bottom change by revaluating ways of working? Are they open to new solutions, systems, and methodologies?
If so, great! Begin by preparing – and back with numbers – a presentation of why a sustainability strategy will be good for the business and who or what will benefit from it.
Once you have consolidated ideas of what and how you want to implement, create a case for how it can be practically, financially, and logistically implemented to gather unanimous support for it.
Sustainability strategy ideas to consider
So now your business comprehends the importance of having a powerful sustainability strategy that speaks to the company’s values and environmentally friendly sensibilities, the next step is planning and implementing one.
Above all, it should be led by your organisation’s mission and motivations, fully aligning with how it operates. Once you have identified issues and practices that can be improved, get your employees and stakeholders on board in the entire process by engaging in a transparent dialogue with them.
Then, sustainable development goals and key performance indicators you may like to consider with your strategy could include:
Reducing carbon emissions will be one of any company’s key sustainability development goals and this can partly be done by analysing your business’ current energy solutions.
How does your business source its energy? Perhaps you can shift to a renewable supplier source where possible? Even small steps like using low energy light bulbs or installing timers across your site and premises can make a difference.
Waste reduction and recycling
Pollution and waste are two major challenges that Australia faces. In fact, the manufacturing and construction sectors are the largest contributors of solid waste in Australia, accounting for 32% of the total waste produced which equates to around 25.50 million tonnes.
Tangible ways your business can reduce its waste output and lower its environmental impact include promoting recycling at every opportunity with dedicated bins and collections, purchasing recycled paper-based products, coffee cups and stationery, and avoiding single use plastics at every opportunity.
Does your business make or manufacture goods? If so, examine where you source your materials and revaluate your supply chain. By committing to source materials from responsible, ethical sources using fair labour practices you will make positive impact on your organisation’s social footprint/
The Climate Council published a report stating that transport makes up 18% of all greenhouse gas pollution in Australia. Furthermore, it showed that almost 87% of Australian commuters travel to work by car and that road-based transport pollution contributes to a greater proportion of emissions in Australia than the global average.
Anything that your organisation can do to encourage greener methods of transportation for employees will be a help. If your company has a large fleet of vehicles, maybe it could be electrified by switching to electric vehicles instead? Think about implementing an employee cycle to work scheme. And revaluate if you can switch to local suppliers closer to your site rather than ones that require a longer transportation journey.
If you’re struggling to plan a sustainability strategy or want to give your existing plan some credibility, think about reaching out to a third-party non-profit organisation. From social equality to environmental issues, there are a plethora of NPOs that can align with your company’s specific interests and motivations.
By partnering with a non-profit organisation, you can tap into their expertise, resources, and networks to jumpstart a purposeful sustainability strategy and implement it effectively.
Australia stands to lose $3.4 trillion by 2070 if organisations don’t act fast, but could gain $680 billion with rapid, focused action in terms of sustainable development goals.
Implementing a powerful sustainability strategy will make a profound difference to the environment, your company culture, and its bottom line.
A strong sustainability strategy should align well with your business’ economic one and create long-term value for your company by driving growth, performance, and its environmental accountability.
Establish your company’s interest and commitment to devising a sustainability strategy before creating a plan of how and why it would benefit the business and environment.
When planning a sustainability strategy, consider things that you can do to improve your organisation’s energy usage, waste output, supply chain and transportation solutions.
Consider partnering with a non-profit organisation that help you implement an effective sustainability strategy.
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