The breadth and depth of sustainability work continues to expand across consumer goods industries. Sustainability efforts were once the responsibility of a dedicated individual or department within a business. Successful organizations now recognize the importance of involving everyone in their sustainability journey. For teams, legal and financial ESG reporting requirements are expanding. Simultaneously, internal demands and dependencies spread across the organization as sustainability becomes a higher-priority issue for businesses. Efficiency and accuracy are crucial to avoid burnout and achieve goals. By aligning departments towards a common sustainability vision, teams can achieve environmental objectives and broader business goals.
Here are three steps to integrate sustainability across your company.
Tie performance goals to sustainability achievements
In the current market, budgets are tight and you are scrutinizing every margin. Often, this is when you put sustainability on the back burner. By combining company and sustainability goals you ensure they stay prioritized.
Some ways companies may want to achieve this is through:
- Tying executive bonuses and compensation to sustainability goals
- Linking team objectives and key results to sustainability outcomes
- Incentives for meeting sustainability goals for teams and individuals
- Mapping company values and priorities to include climate, human rights, and fair governance
- Third-party certification and verifications like B Corp, Climate Neutral, and more
Ensure both individuals and teams are responsible for sustainability goals across the organization. That way a shared sense of purpose and drive to achieve these goals emerges.
Leverage cross-departmental collaboration
While some teams may have more involvement in driving sustainability strategy and key initiatives, it’s crucial to engage the entire company. For sustainability teams, having the right partnerships helps reduce last-minute requests. Also, you may be able to collaborate with skill sets that would be useful for sustainability work. Could someone from the data or technology team support annual reporting? How can marketing help with the sustainability story internally and externally?
Here are a few ways to encourage cross-departmental collaboration:
- Establish sustainability champions. Identify employees in each department who are passionate about sustainability. Empower them to drive sustainability initiatives within their respective teams.
- Create regular communication channels. Facilitate an open dialogue between departments to share best practices, ideas, and challenges. This fosters a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.
- Foster innovation. Encourage employees to contribute innovative ideas for sustainable practices, products, or services.
Support executive buy-in and communications
Ensure your leadership team is fluent in your sustainability strategy. CEOs can speak to the vision, while people teams can discuss the value to employees. Keep it simple: even a few clearly articulated stats and goals can go a long way. When you equip teams to speak about progress, they can make a huge impact in day-to-day activities. To encourage this, try providing the key information so they are able to share as they see fit.
Some ideas to share might include:
- Monthly or quarterly sustainability results and reporting
- Updates on current programs
- Industry news and benchmarks
- Communications materials
When teams hear the story from leaders repeatedly, they are more likely to understand that the work is essential. This is also a great way to help level set capacity and bandwidth with the company as a whole. Set expectations around turnaround times and priorities to avoid distractions.
Incorporating sustainability goals across the entire organization is essential for businesses to thrive today. By collaborating with marketing, HR, finance, and others sustainability team members help embed their discipline within the organization’s values. This aligns businesses with global sustainability goals while driving innovation, it enhances brand reputation, and leads to long-term success. Together, let us embrace sustainability as a shared journey. We can create a brighter and more sustainable future for all.