There’s no question sustainability is no longer a fringe subject. We are seeing global momentum as workplaces make their businesses more sustainable. But what simple process can you follow to ensure you have the right strategy?
Agreeing on what sustainability is can be a time-consuming way to get caught up in the semantics. A good place to start is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs offer you a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Identifying sustainable development issues that are relevant and material enables value creation.
Let’s think about one of our guilty pleasures: chocolate.
Imagine that bittersweet taste of cacao melting on our tongues. Replace that guilt by knowing you chose chocolate with an EKOenergy label. The globally recognised label shows the world that this business uses sustainable energy. The seller contributes 0.10 € to the EKOenergy Climate Fund which has raised more than $406,000. This money finances projects in developing countries such as solar panels. You are supporting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, Climate Action.
This is through the lens of the consumer; how do you show your commitment to the SDGs as a business? You can embed SDG considerations into strategic business decisions. Know you’re leaving a better planet for future generations.
There is rising momentum to promote ESG investments and SDG initiatives. A plan connects your vision and philosophy and puts in place the relevant SDGs.
Of course, chocolate was a small example to make a point.
Let’s look at Unilever. The consumer goods giant will invest $1.63 billion in a climate change fund over 10 years. Goods and services provided by Unilever will declare their carbon footprint.
The company will also prioritise partnerships with suppliers that have set emission reduction targets. All packaging will show the carbon footprint of the product in the future.
Can you see the ripple effect?
With a plan you can not only set targets but integrate sustainability into every employee’s job. This turns a sustainable business model into business as usual.
A handful of companies engage their employees in sustainability issues.
Marks & Spencer’s 1380 stores have sustainability champions ensuring they each meet sustainability targets. Financial services firm Old Mutual Group upskilled their leaders in sustainability.
Such initiatives make sustainability relevant and palpable throughout the company.
The two shared examples are for large organisations. Engaging SMEs (small to medium enterprises) will also help solve the root cause of global sustainability challenges.
Because SMEs account for approximately 90 per cent of all businesses.
The World Bank notes that SMEs contribute to GDP and play a crucial role in creating employment. Formal SMEs contribute up to 45 per cent of total employment and up to 33 per cent of GDP in emerging economies.
It is also critical to leverage small and growing businesses (SGBs) as a key tool in attaining the goals. Locally driven, self-sustaining solutions create jobs that help people stay out of poverty. Small business owners have freedom. Freedom to create a world that is cleaner, healthier more inclusive and fairer for all.
Let’s look through that consumer lens again.
Consumer spending in the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) category exceeds $30 billion.
The LOHAS influence has emerged across all product categories. Innovative brands provide alternative options for everything from food to investments.
Mobium Group has surveyed more than 50,000 Australians. It has had more than 850 discussions to analyse their needs. The insights show how motivated Australians engage in healthier, more sustainable lifestyle choices.
More than 90 per cent of Australians care about the environment. They want action and are often unsure what to do to become more sustainable.
Innovation drives more sustainable product and services choices across the consumer landscape. Addressing consumer uncertainty as part of innovation strategies is worth prioritising.
Global policy frameworks translate into laws, regulations and reporting requirements. This has local implication such as responsible business practices, licence to operate. It also encourages resilient business models for the emerging context.
You can lead the way by setting Science Based Targets (SBTs). Reducing greenhouse gases is good for business as well as society as a whole.
Lead by example and ensure you act in line with climate science and your own values.
Supporting SBTs by your own commitment encourages other companies to do the same. Play your part to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees through real decarbonisation. Even though you can offset remaining emissions, reduction needs to come first.
Become a B-Corp
Putting some of these practices into place is a great way to start your journey to B-Corp certification. There are many benefits including:
- being part of a like minded community
- Attracting talent and building an engaged culture
- Benchmarking and improving performance
- Build credibility and amplify your voice
- Protect your mission
If you are a social enterprise, get certified by Social Traders. This will embed you into business and government supply chains.
The benefits are evident. Be proactive, make the changes, improve your business and our planet. See your profits and social impact soar.
You can contact Lisa Tracy at Turning Green here Lisa@turninggreen,com..au