15 Sep Adopting a business-wide strategy to sustainability
While an increasing number of businesses are hiring chief sustainability officers, many leaders emphasise that organisations cannot place sustainability in a single function.
Sustainability plans must be incorporated across every part of a business to reach and exceed ESG-related targets. Sustainability is often considered an element of the overall business strategy. However, for sustainability plans to be effective, they need to be incorporated into every aspect of an organisation.
Introducing sustainability-based targets, such as net-zero, impacts all parts of our business, from supply chain to product development. To continue making progress, all sustainability measures must be integrated into every individual and their associated teams working lives. This approach applies across every industry. For most companies, the impacts on the environment and sustainability are dispersed beyond their operations and more so in their value chains. To influence changes in these parts of a business value chain requires more than reliance on a corporate sustainability approach. It needs procurement and supply chain teams to consider the impacts of sustainability in their purchasing plans, product development and R&D teams have a suitable process in place that ensures products meet the necessary environmental and sustainability standards.
Implementing these product-related measures transforms how a team works, and its associated procurement side collaborates with its suppliers. These measures are necessary as the material choice can significantly influence the overall carbon intensity linked to each stage. Product-focused plans encourage further collaboration between procurement and suppliers in using the most effective products for their business.
This transition and closer working relationship is something encouraged by sustainability leaders and admittedly comes with several challenges. As the overall responsibility for sustainability disperses across a business, it becomes more complicated to manage and monitor certain aspects.
Projects from multiple functions can make it more complicated or impact overall ESG targets. There are several ways sustainability officers and their teams can manage this process.
Firstly, corporate sustainability targets can translate into specific goals. While many businesses create ESG targets, it’s not as common for these figures to be converted into individual goals and incentivise each one. Creating corporate targets relative to each team, function and performance enable sustainability to be incorporated more effectively.
Creating functional sustainability positions to manage the overall approach to corporate sustainability is vital. To effectively handle the coordination of sustainability measures, some businesses appoint specific people to work on this. Another factor is introducing sustainability-focused forums. As the general responsibility for sustainability measures increases, it is increasingly critical to share this information with the entire organisation. To achieve this, collaborating on specific forums enabling leaders to work together on sustainability goals. In short, employees will understand how to incorporate sustainability into their working lives if they are well informed about it.