How to Implement Sustainability into Business Performance
By Varun Bodhi
Historically, businesses only measured their performance from profitability but in the current era where climate change has become an area of concern, corporate social responsibility (CSR) can’t be overlooked.
Fortunately, there are many ways businesses can incorporate sustainability into their goals and performance.
Define what it means for your Business
Sustainability means different things for every business, but fundamentally it is about making choices and undertaking actions that benefit both the environment and the company.
For sustainable businesses, part of their mission is to create sustainable solutions for their industry as a whole. In other words, sustainable businesses design processes and operations that reduce their environmental impact while also growing their bottom line.
Sustainable practices go beyond recycling paper and reduce energy usage - they include strategies such as finding efficient ways to use natural resources, providing customers with sustainable products and services, implementing operational efficiency strategies throughout the supply-chain management process, investing in green technologies, and engaging with sustainable founding firms.
Defining sustainability for your business requires an understanding of your industry's current environmental impact as well as your company's ethical guidelines or mandate on sustainability. When done properly, sustainable practice can open up new business opportunities while creating value for customers.
Outline your Goals
Sustainable business practices are no longer a ‘nice to have’ for many companies – they have become an absolute necessity and form a critical part of performance.
Sustainable business initiatives involve setting effective goals to reduce environmental footprint, maintain and improve overall company health in the long run, and become less vulnerable to risk from sudden external changes.
To ensure optimal performance while respecting the environment, businesses should focus on certain clear objectives. These could include reducing energy consumption, maintaining ethical supply chains, using renewable sources of energy wherever possible, supporting local farmers and vendors who use sustainable methods, increasing recycling efforts within their office space, and greater responsible sourcing standards.
Implementing such objectives can help businesses become more successful while being mindful of the environment at the same time.
Identify Key Areas of your Business
Green and sustainable business practices are becoming increasingly important for modern businesses, with sustainability goals forming a paramount part in measuring performance.
There are a variety of areas that might need to change in order to meet sustainability goals, such as production processes, energy sources, waste management, packaging materials and transportation. Performance should be regularly monitored in all these areas of the business and changes should be implemented if necessary.
Green businesses generally see improved efficiency and cost savings throughout their operations when they transition away from traditional industry practices. Taking into account the long-term effects on the environment can quickly justify any upfront investments required to shift towards a more sustainable outlook.
Developing a green strategy should be the starting point when undertaking a review of all processes, from customer acquisition and engagement through to supplier relation management. Savings associated with energy and water use, waste reduction and product/services development can have an immediate (and positive) impact on the bottom line, while business operations targeted at users and consumers can also help to strengthen customer loyalty and goodwill. By engaging stakeholders and formulating plans based on measurable objectives, businesses stand better positioned to achieve sustainable goals in all areas of the organisation.
Set a Timeline with a Plan of Action
Now that we have established the need to outline goals and identify key areas of the business which can implement sustainable practice, the next step is to create a timeline.
To ensure success, businesses should create a plan with strict timelines and responsible parties for each sustainability goal they strive to achieve. Having clearly identified goals and deadlines not only increases the chances of successful implementation, but also helps businesses gain better visibility over their overall objectives.
Identifying who will be responsible for achieving each goal can also help foster motivation amongst team members while making sure all tasks are completed in timely manner. Sustainable workflows give businesses a chance to cut costs while also giving them the opportunity to make an impactful contribution to society.
The bottom line is, without a strict timeline and actively working towards these goals, businesses won’t reach sustainable practices.
Adjust as Required
Once the plan is set in motion, be sure to track progress and have smaller milestones to measure success rate. It’s important to note that adjustments will need to be made or plans can become outdated or unachievable due to circumstantial events.
Without these adjustments, it can be difficult to identify areas of improvement, or to pivot when external factors don't play the part. When re-evaluating your business' sustainability goals, take into account changing trends such as resource scarcity, cost effectiveness and climate change, so you are making decisions with the right information in hand. Track key performance indicators in relation to your goals and make sure that objectives fit within short-term expectations. As long as you review plans regularly and keep adjusting them where necessary according to internal and external conditions, you're well on your way to achieving a productive and successful sustainability journey.
Sustainability has become essential for businesses to implement into their practices. By outlining goals and action plans, companies can make significant strides towards a sustainable future. As the public becomes more aware of environmental issues, it is important for businesses to demonstrate that they are taking steps to address these problems. What actions will your company take to become more sustainable?