In business, the word ‘sustainable’ is used with more frequency than ever before. As a concept it has developed into ambitious (and crucial) corporate visions, where resources are used sparingly, people treated fairly and nothing is left to waste.
The most progressive companies see it as an on-going journey, not a policy that is written and dusted off once a year. True sustainability is a living and breathing mind set within your business, deeply ingrained in operations, requiring leadership, creativity, commitment and highly engaged employees. A daunting thought!
Where do you start?
- Define your sustainability purposes
You'll have initiatives going on in your business already. From activity arising from customer driven audits to employee fundraising and local sponsorship. Make a list. Are their any common threads? Are there particular areas that you should be doing more in? Choose 3-5 key focus areas for your business. For example a food and farming business may choose: water, waste, worker accommodation standards, local community involvement and employee engagement in sustainability.
Set your goals
In each of your focus areas don't be afraid set a stretch goal. Something to grip the minds of your employees and help them understand: this is important. Be honest that you may not make the target, but you are going to try!
- Nominate ‘sustainability champions’ in your company
Appoint a person to lead each of the focus areas. From any level of the business. The most important thing is that they must be personally passionate about the chosen focus. For example, you want the most passionate person about food waste, in your organisation, leading a waste reduction goal. It takes heaps of energy to get sustainability goals into the consciousness of employees - you'll need the natural burning passion of your champions to drive this! “
As your goals become more embedded into the business you can start to emphasize that company sustainability is not the workload of one person, but rather the small, vital effort of each and every employee to make a difference, every hour, every day.
Getting started with a sustainability strategy can be daunting, but once you are underway with the straightforward steps above, you’ll be making an immediate and tangible difference.
InterfaceFLOR started their journey in the 1990s. Have a look at this short video by Ray Anderson, their CEO for inspiration of what can be achieved by taking the first step today.