5 steps to create meaningful corporate sustainability goals

08/03/20195 Minute Read

Every company operating today should be concerned with reducing environmental impact, and many firms are now incorporating sustainability goals into their strategic planning with the aim of lessening their footprints. Luckily, taking a more earth-friendly approach to business can yield benefits that are both altruistic and commercial, as contributing to the well-being of the planet can attract environmentally conscious customers.

How can you go about setting corporate sustainability goals that will benefit both the planet and your business? Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Examine your business

To reduce your organisation’s environmental footprint, you must first identify areas where the business could improve in this regard. Look at everything from the sourcing, packaging, and transportation of raw materials to workplace power consumption rates and the shelf lives of your products. This will enable you to establish a baseline of information that can be used to back improvement initiatives.

You’ll also want to make sure to ask company officials about any insights or concerns they may have regarding the firm’s environmental impact. Take feedback from your customers into account, as well. According to HP’s 2018 Environmental Sustainability Study, Australians are very concerned about the environment, but only half believe that enough is being done to protect it, and they often see companies as responsible for the impact of the environment. The issues of air and water pollution, animal conservation, and climate change are particularly important to the public at large, so you need to show them you hear their concerns and are doing something about them.

2. Engage your employees

While making an initial assessment is important, your green strategy won’t succeed unless you engage the entire business in setting corporate sustainability goals. To do so, you will need to offer a clear explanation of your goals and how you plan to achieve them through cooperation with your employees.

Remember that engagement isn’t just about sending an email newsletter every few weeks. As Business.com notes in an article on developing strategies for corporate sustainability, you need to create a cross-functional team that includes members from every level of your business to address the issue. Engaging this team early in your process will show the company you’re seriously committed to developing a program involving the whole business and not just demanding that employees make changes without having the opportunity to offer guidance.

3. Make improvements where you can

As you develop your corporate sustainability goals, you’ll realise some will be easier to achieve than others. There’s nothing wrong with going after these quick wins first. For example, using recycled or FSC-certified paper and recycling toner cartridges are relatively easy improvements to make. Additionally, you should aim to use computers and peripherals that consume less energy or ones made from recycled materials.

If you are permitted to make improvements to the building where your business is housed, you might consider installing solar panels for green energy production. While this isn’t inexpensive, it’s a straightforward process that can make a substantial difference in your power bills and serve as a tangible reminder to staff and customers of your company’s commitment to reducing environmental impact.

Make these changes visible. If you introduce renewable energy sources, add a system that measures and displays your energy consumption to make the benefits apparent. A simple display showing the difference in your company’s CO2 emissions could go a long way toward engaging workers in your sustainability program.

4. Look to the future

Be realistic about your goals. Many large companies talk a big game when it comes to having a closed loop supply chain where every product they create can be fully recycled, but in many cases, the effective implementation of sustainable practices is far from complete.

However, the ultimate implementation of these initiatives will remain an important issue in the years to come, when companies will no doubt feel increased pressure from customers to prove they are actively concerned with reducing negative effects on the environment. This will underscore the importance of developing long-term corporate strategies, medium-term tactical plans, and short-term action plans to counter these effects.

While it would likely be impossible for you to source all your organisation’s raw materials from 100 percent environmentally friendly sources today, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the goal altogether. Look for opportunities to work with green suppliers today while keeping an eye out for opportunities to upgrade your supply chain. Corporate sustainability shouldn’t just be a short-term project; it should be a long-term effort that warrants consideration whenever your company makes a decision.

5. Account for risk

Setting corporate sustainability goals and executing a plan to achieve them requires a thorough risk assessment. When preparing this assessment, consider whether your competitors are trying to reduce the impacts of their own businesses on the environment. If they are, it may be risky for your business to stand still as customers look for greener suppliers and business partners.

According to HP’s Sustainability Study, potential staff are also making decisions about where they will work based on corporate sustainability plans. There is a risk that the best candidates may avoid your business if you cannot demonstrate your dedication in green initiatives.

Setting appropriate corporate sustainability goals, assessing risk, and measuring progress are crucial steps in reducing any organisation’s impact on the environment. If your company can take these steps effectively, it will likely gain the trust and favour of its employees and customers—all while making the world a better place.

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