“We’re only just getting started”, explained the manager of the large-ish Belgian company. They had recently introduced measures to cut paper consumption in their offices, promote reusable mugs and considered a move to Fair Trade coffee. “How can we take our employees along for these sustainability efforts?”
Had they considered setting an objective, I asked. Certainly, employees would be more likely to engage if they saw that the company is serious about it. Not yet, he replied. So we brainstormed some ideas:
- Determine priorities. Sustainability is a big topic, and it’s easy to get lost in the details. Especially at the beginning you won’t be able to tackle everything. In which areas do you have the highest impact? Which align well with the company values? Where do you already have momentum? Which could lead to an interesting value proposition for your customers?
- Drive by facts. You’ll want to know whether your programme is having an impact, and so will your superiors and stakeholders. If you start measuring a set of sustainability indicators, you will be able to show that your work is worthwhile (or adjust your activities if they don’t yield the expected results).
- Enjoy the journey. Just like you’re never done building a business, you’re never done making it sustainable. If you frame your sustainability programme as an ongoing process, you can adjust your plan as you learn and as the environment changes – and you can slowly move it to the core of the company culture.
- Share the benefits. In a globally connected world, there is no point in trying to solve sustainability issues on your own. How could your clients benefit from your efforts? Are there new business opportunities for you? And which existing frameworks for sustainable business operations can you take advantage of?
What else could they try?