Tuesday, November 29, 2016

6 Steps to Building a Sustainability Focused Corporate Culture

A sustainability focused corporate culture seeks to preserve and protect vital resources for future generations. A corporate culture refers to beliefs and behaviors, it can be supported through white papers, charters, philosophies, vision and mission statements but it is ultimately about people. Sustainability is rooted in a sense of kinship with people, a deep affection for the planet and a keen focus on financial viability. However, there is an all important caveat that is also a key success factor. The viability of a sustainability focused corporate culture depends on being able to encourage employees to buy-in to a company's sustainability efforts.

1. People

Appointing a committed leader with good communication skills is essential. Getting a few passionate people to join this individual in spearheading the effort can make all the difference. Individuals who are passionately committed to sustainable solutions are more likely to create and adhere to programs, they are also more likely to inspire others. Interest is contagious, you cannot expect employees to be excited about getting on-board if the people directing the project(s) are not.  To be successful organizations must lead by example starting at the highest echelons.

2. Developing protocols

Once areas of interest are identified, department specific sustainability protocols must be created. Make sure to invest the time working with people who understand the nuances of each department before these protocols are crafted.

3. Quantification

Applying quantitative methods is essential to gauge progress and to motivate employees. People must be assigned to develop formulas to monitor, track and measure progress. Graphical representations of progress should be provided, particularly as it relates to intangibles like emissions reduction. Reporting is also common in other areas including energy, water, and waste.

4. Goals

Goals setting can occur before implementation or once a baseline has been established. When setting goals ensure that they are realistic and achievable. Some goals are easy and can be accomplished immediately other goals will require much more time. It is important to have a mix of short term goals that have immediate payoffs and longer term goals that may not offer any apparent immediate benefit.

5. Sharing

Success is contagious and companies can inspire action far removed from the workplace. By sharing the results of their efforts with employees and throughout their supply chains they are encouraging others to follow. While there may be leverage that can be exercised, just as the buy-in from employees must be carefully nurtured. This is not about demanding compliance with arduous requirements, this is about building mutually beneficial relationships with vendors and suppliers. The issue can be framed in the context of savings (eg energy usage, emissions, money).

6. Encourage ambition

People must be given license to make a grand effort and they must be rewarded for doing so (rewards can take many forms from recognition to bonuses). They must believe that they are doing their part to improve the world. Encourage them engage their passions while keeping them focused on the collaboration required to achieve the stated mission, goals and objectives.

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