Business is always intertwined with the local environment. With the emerging concept of corporate sustainability, these two terms deserve a redefinition. What you need to know is that the relationship between a business and the environment is characterized by reciprocity – in other words, mutual concession and compromises. The business community is responsible for creating a sustainable future for consumers. Meeting sustainability goals depends to a large extent on the culture that motivates employees. Surprising as it may seem, it all starts with the culture of the company. These are the steps that you need to take on your road to sustainability.
Make sure people understand the sustainability imperative
Most executives know that they need to cut down on energy and waste costs. What is more, they know that boosting sustainability can affect the competitiveness of their organizations. They are making great efforts to become responsible citizens, checking labels before making purchases, looking at suppliers’ websites for info about their practices, and, most importantly, paying attention to the public opinion. Needless to say, the marketplace has undergone significant changes in the past years, and investing in a sustainability program is not a luxury anymore but a necessity. It is the right business thing to do.
Find a way to communicate the sustainability imperative to your employees. Depending on how they see things, your approach to creating long-term value may or may not be successful. To share your vision, you must have the chance to engage in meaningful dialogue with the members of your team. The conversations should take place inside the company. Encourage people to speak up. This way, it will be easier to handle challenging problems and leverage new opportunities. Actively talk about sustainability. You will discover that it is useful to use case studies and interviews when it comes to establishing what sustainability means.
Find and retain the right people
Employees make countless decisions per day. Undoubtedly, they can take initiative in the workplace. There are many ways proactive professionals can contribute to saving the environment, such as turning off and unplugging their computers, bringing their own lunch to work, or start telecommuting. Since people make up the company culture, you need to find and retain the right ones. When it comes down to choosing between two candidates, determine who will be a good fit among the team. If you do not have the right people on board, you will not be able to put your ideas into practice.
Recruiting for sustainability can have a huge impact on your organization’s profitability, productivity, not to mention employee happiness, which is why you should be careful. What you need to do is to recruit based on your values, and expect individuals to take responsibility for the job. Hiring millennials is a good move. They care deeply for the environment. Not only are millennials willing to pay more for eco-friendly products, but also they are eager to get involved in actions which are meant to save the planet. Millennials are attracted by green workplaces, so you have a shot. Given the fact that millennials are one of the most highly-educated demographics, take advantage of this opportunity.
Talk to your competitors about eco-friendly initiatives
The best companies are the ones that value learning. They are always making efforts to improve and gain insight from the competition. These companies learn and translate that learning into action really fast. You should take note of what companies in the United States and beyond are doing. Ford, Starbucks, and many others are doing their best to address issues such as climate change and the scarcity of natural resources. Ford, for example, works with suppliers to reduce CO2 emissions and make cars more energy-efficient.
You have more in common with the competition than you think. You want to make a real difference in the world and demonstrate that you care about what consumers want. Your international competitors may help you gain great insight. Did you know that in Denmark they use balers and waste compactors? The machinery used in Denmark is designed to reduce and compress high volumes of trash before the recycling company comes to pick it up. The point is that you have a lot to learn from the competition. Talk to leaders of other organizations and find out what sustainability initiatives they implement. You are sure to find an inspirational example.
Include sustainability in the decision-making process
To be good at decision-making, you have to get a profound understanding of the company and take into account all the complexities. When sustainability enters the picture, it is even more difficult to make resolutions. For the most suitable outcome, include sustainability in the decision-making process. Consider the environmental impact of what you are doing and make sure everyone is on board. In a culture of sustainability, matters of this kind are discussed openly and everyone is involved in the decision-making process. You will surely find a way to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations of meeting their needs.
Of course, you are a rational decision-maker. Although you have your preferences, you wish to contribute to the greater good, so you carefully way alternatives and determine what is the best course of action. The members of your team may have one or two ideas on how to change things for the better. The result will not be negative and, by bringing in different thoughts, you guarantee that everyone can express themselves. The last thing you want to do is invest in a factory that is not expensive, only to come to the conclusion that your capital is locked into fossil fuel-based energy resources. Do you get the point?
Engage employees through instruction, leadership development, and corporate transformation. Embedding sustainability in the organizational culture is not the easiest thing in the world, but you can do it. No matter where you are in your journey, you can go further. Your future is on the line, so take things seriously.