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Making sustainability a daily concern

 

The idea of corporate sustainability is well ingrained in most organisations’ high-level discourse and strategy. However, translating that into concrete initiatives and regular practices can often be far more of a challenge. In part, this is because there can be difficulties in translating strategic level concepts of sustainability into ideas that have real relevance to employees and their workloads. In short, sustainability policies need to be embedded within an organisation’s overall culture.

 

This can begin by making sustainability something that directors and managers are responsible for – perhaps, for example, through naming a director with specific responsibility, or creating a separate committee with sustainability as its focus. This immediately draws high-level statements of intent into solid areas of concern for the business – after all, performance on it will now be measured and assessed.

 

It also needs to come with engaging all of an organisation’s stakeholders – from its suppliers and customers, to the wider community it operates in, and the investors it might be operating for. Each, of course, has their own part to play in the organisation’s sustainability agenda – suppliers, for instance, might need to adjust working practices to account for a new focus on transparency and more sustainable supply chains.

 

Employees, of course, will also need to be brought on board. This starts with open and straightforward conversation on what an organisation’s aims on sustainability are, and what these will mean for departments and individuals. Employees need to be given the information they need to understand that sustainability might mean a slight change in focus – from pure profits, say, to wider environmental and social concerns.

 

This needs to be shown both in theory and in practice – that what your organisation is saying on sustainability is also being acted upon. Once they understand the importance the organisation is placing on the concept, they are better able to themselves live and work the ideas each day.
 
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