Basic questions. High level efficiency
What does sustainability mean in business?
According to Alexandra Spiliakos of Harvard Business School Online, sustainability is about 3 “doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.”
Get it right and an overlap between social and environmental progress and financial gain develops and this is known as the shared value opportunity. In other words, ‘doing good’ can have a direct impact on your company’s ability to ‘do well.’
Spiliakos recommends that managers should be asking how much waste is being created, what impact is the company having on the community, and do the business goals follow the SMART principle of being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely?
Disclosure to direct action
Each enterprise is unique, though the common goals in a sustainable ecosystem are the same, and include the harmonising of society, the environment and corporate success which follows the mantra of purpose, people, planet and profit.
According to PwC’s consultancy arm Strategy&, this can be achieved with the adoption of a 4 four-point plan:
- Baseline the existing business and operating model. The baseline typically incorporates processes, business functions, systems and stakeholders’ expectations including the current and anticipated requirements of customers, investors and employees.
- Define ESG targets, identifying the schemes or proposals to achieve them while quantifying the economic impact of these initiatives. This exercise assists in the clarification of sustainable objectives with the associated business opportunity.
- Adopt policies and integrate sustainability into the business strategy in a consistent manner. Consistency goes beyond internal systems and includes external supply chains and procurement with company’s examining ESG compliance where packaging is concerned for example. Is it sustainably sourced, and are manufacturing processes climate-friendly instead of environmentally eroding?
- Develop a road map for each initiative with the facility to report externally and internally on the company’s ESG agenda.
Education and implementation
The adoption of these steps assists the evolution of a sustainable corporation, one that is proactive and progressive which workshops sustainability with its employees and partners, while seeking advice from specialist lenders and financial advisors.
Public engagement will determine if a fully sustainable business will be a success, and integral to a pure ESG mission is inclusiveness with companies sponsoring community projects and gender-neutral programs.
The next step is about implementation, and guidelines already exist to support a company’s transition to sustainable best practice. Options include the appointment or outsourcing of a sustainability professional who can advise and audit, or membership of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for example, which provides guidelines on environmental compliance, anti-corruption, and biodiversity.
Once the mind mapping of a sustainable corporation is complete, how can these initiatives be put into practice?
How infrastructure for change can be financed