How Can You Ensure Your Corporate Sustainability Commitment is Goal-Orientated?
A commitment to sustainability can be a daunting task for many businesses because there are so many different types of commitments to a myriad causes on a variety of scales.
To ensure your business gets the most out of your sustainability commitment, you need to ensure that your commitments are goal orientated. This means you are focusing on what your company might achieve from the sustainability commitment as opposed to the actual commitment itself. For example, you might decide you want to attract a new type of customer to your business, maybe a more environmentally conscious customer. This would mean you need to attract these customers with new business practices and would need to make a certain type of commitment to economic sustainability. Another example of a goal-orientated sustainability commitment might be to find an investor for the expansion of your organisation, which may require a sustainability commitment.
The reason it is so important that your sustainability commitment is goal-orientated is to ensure that your company remains economically sustainable throughout its commitment to the wider, economy, society and environment. The more your company grows, the bigger impact you can have on achieving a sustainable future for all.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure your sustainability commitment remains goal-orientated and results-driven.
1. Ensure your commitment is led by action
A commitment to sustainability needs to have tangible action points that your customers and stakeholders can see and understand. While the implementation of new policy is a great way for businesses starting their commitment to sustainability, especially for small-to-medium-sized enterprises, it is the action taken as part of those policies which bring about progress towards the achievement of your business' sustainability goals.
2. Make commitments with a logical connection to your product or service
Being able to tie your sustainability commitment into your existing brand story will save your business both time and money and resonate with your customers and stakeholders more effectively and efficiently. A great example of this is The Body Shop. Their commitment to sustainability started with not testing their beauty and skincare products on animals and eventually widened as the brand grew. There was a logical connection between product testing and their product, which was easy for customers and stakeholders to understand.
3. Find your relevance to your customers
It is important to understand your customer demographic in your business for a number of reasons, including when building your sustainability commitment. Your commitment must not completely alienate your existing customers, even if you are aiming to attract new customers. A great way to ensure your sustainability commitment resonates with your customers is through conducting a survey of your customer base into what practices those key people in the success of your business want to see you organisations engage in to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the planet.
4. Provide opportunities for customer participation
To ensure your sustainability commitment invites your customers to join your business on this journey, it is important that your commitment provides incentives for customer participation. A great example of this is a discount on take-away coffee in cafes if your customers bring their own reusable cup. This allows your customers to feel involved in the process and be rewarded for their assistance in helping your business reach the goals that you have set for a more sustainable future
5. Ensure clear messaging around your commitment to sustainability
The concept of sustainability can seem overwhelming for many people - what does it mean, what are the different aspects and levels of a commitment, how does it impact the everyday person? Clear messaging is key in ensuring not only your customers but also your staff and other stakeholders are able to join your business to actually achieve some of these sustainability goals and targets. At Strategic Sustainability Consultants, we recommend the use of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development as a communication tool. These goals are colourful, numbered and accompanied by easy-to-understand icons and a list of targets which can apply to business practices. The goals are recognised by all 193 United Nations member states so can easily be communicated in all countries around the world.
6. Communicate your actions and progress effectively
In a similar way that your initial commitment and goal-setting requires clear messaging, the ongoing communication of your actions and progress needs to be communicated effectively. A common pitfall for organisations which have made a commitment to sustainability is the lack of communication around the amazing progress they are making towards this commitment. Such actions should be celebrated and publicised in order to engage more customers and stakeholders and be able to take further action towards a more sustainable future.
7. Make your goals measurable
Last week, we spoke about how your SME can set meaningful and measurable sustainability goals. This is a core aspect of ensuring your sustainability commitment remains goal-orientated.
8. Ensure transparency
When it comes to sustainability, there is a lot of lip-service from some businesses around the world, which confuses consumers. A transparent commitment to sustainability makes your business more accountable and encourages greater progress towards your goals. Social media and e-newsletters are both great tools to visually demonstrate to customers and other stakeholders that you are remaining dedicated to your sustainability commitment.
9. Implement these goals in a meaningful way into your business
Once you make a commitment to sustainability, the concept of creating a better future can no longer be a side part of your business; it must be embedded into your core company values. Sustainability needs to run throughout the business, not just as a secondary program. For this reason, it is important that your staff are invited to participate in all aspects of the program and make their own commitment to sustainability as part of their employment within your organisation. You will see your goals are achieved a lot more efficiently if this is a whole-business approach!
If you are ready to make a goal-orientated commitment and plan to achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability within your organisation, contact us today!
This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.