The increasing demand for sustainability, in relation to products and processes, is leading to rapid changes in policies, laws, and regulations around the world.
As a result, many businesses are realising the need for adopting an effective sustainability strategy, not only for the environmental benefits but for the associated community and company benefits as well.
In this article, we will delve a little deeper into what constitutes a sustainability strategy before sharing our 4 essential tips to ensure that your strategy is fit for purpose.
We will also highlight some of the work the Lawler Sustainability team is doing to support companies all over the world in their journey to net-zero.
What is a Sustainability Strategy?
At the time of writing, Irish businesses are largely unprepared for a transition to net-zero. Recent figures indicate that almost 70% of Irish companies do not have any person or team in charge of creating and implementing a sustainability strategy.
This can be largely attributed to a knowledge gap with regard to what is involved and why it is necessary.
So, what is a sustainability strategy and why is it important?
A sustainability strategy is a blueprint for action that companies employ to make certain that their practices are environmentally conscious and socially accountable. The objective of such a strategy is to lessen the detrimental effects of an organisation’s operations on the natural world and communities, while concurrently fostering economic expansion and progress.
A sustainability plan usually encompasses a range of initiatives, such as decreasing energy consumption, integrating more renewable energy sources, and expanding the application of sustainable resources.
The Importance of Sustainability Strategies
Adopting a sustainable approach can bring with it an abundance of advantages to an organisation, such as cost efficiencies, enhanced brand reputation, and heightened customer loyalty. For example, 75% of Gen Z consumers prioritise sustainability over brand name when making purchasing decisions.
However, the most important side effect of a productive strategy is its positive environmental connotations.
A 45% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions is needed by 2030, from 2010 levels, just to keep global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
With companies responsible for a huge proportion of greenhouse gas emissions (22% of Ireland’s total emissions in 2021), there is a prevailing need for businesses to step up their sustainability efforts.
Tips for an Effective Sustainability Strategy
1. Assess your current environmental impact
Not understanding the problem or current situation is cited by Harvard Business Review as the number one reason business strategies fail.
A sustainability strategy is no different. It needs the proper planning, care, and attention to go on to be successful.
An initial environmental impact assessment will provide a baseline of your current environmental performance and identify areas where improvements can be made.
By attaining this initial understanding, you can set measurable and achievable goals to reduce your impact and improve your sustainability.
Additionally, assessing your current environmental impact will also help you identify cost savings opportunities and potential risks associated with not addressing sustainability issues. It can also help you to identify areas where you may be able to differentiate your business from your competitors by being more sustainable.
Overall, assessing your current environmental impact is crucial for effective sustainability planning and can lead to long-term benefits for your business, including cost savings, risk reduction, and improved reputation.
Our sustainability team can conduct a full review of your current situation and devise a comprehensive roadmap with actionable recommendations to get your business contributing positively to the environment.
2. Encourage buy-in from stakeholders and employees
A crucial element in ensuring the success of a company’s sustainability strategy is the participation of stakeholders and employees. For sustainable practices to be properly implemented and perpetuated within an organisation, it is imperative to have the understanding and support of these groups.
Employees play a key role in carrying out sustainability initiatives. Consequently, it is vital that they comprehend the value of sustainability and how it relates to the objectives of the firm.
This can be accomplished by employing communication strategies that clearly explain the significance of sustainability, providing employees with opportunities to actively participate in initiatives, and facilitating training programmes that teach sustainable practices.
Evidence would suggest that there is significant potential buy-in amongst today’s workforce. For example, 67% of jobseekers say that are more likely to apply for a job at an environmentally sustainable company. Therefore, it is up to companies to properly harness this buy-in and use it to fortify their sustainability roadmap.
The engagement of stakeholders, including customers, investors, and suppliers, is critical to a business’s sustainability strategy as they can provide valuable feedback and support for sustainable practices. This engagement can also raise the visibility and credibility of the company’s sustainability efforts.
Furthermore, interacting with stakeholders can uncover new opportunities for sustainable growth and innovation.
Ultimately, it is crucial for businesses to involve stakeholders and employees in their sustainability strategy. Not only does this boost the likelihood of success, but it also establishes a culture of sustainability within the company, leading to improved motivation and productivity, and a better reputation.
3. Set attainable goals and track your progress
Establishing clear and measurable objectives is crucial for directing a company’s sustainability efforts and ensuring that resources are allocated effectively.
This enables the company to concentrate on specific areas where improvements can be made and monitor progress toward achieving these goals.
Having attainable and realistic goals is vital as it allows the company to make progress without becoming overwhelmed.
Tracking progress also allows the company to evaluate the effectiveness of its sustainability efforts and make necessary adjustments. This also enables the company to communicate its sustainability initiatives to stakeholders and demonstrate the impact of its plans.
For instance, a carbon roadmap outlines a clear route for reducing carbon emissions and improving the sustainability of a company. They set out clear milestones for companies to work and track their progress towards, helping them to achieve their goals. Find out more here.
4. Practice transparency
Transparency allows a company to be open and honest about its sustainability efforts, including its environmental performance, sustainability goals, and progress toward achieving those goals.
This helps to build trust with stakeholders, such as customers, investors, and suppliers.
By being transparent, a company can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and its willingness to be held accountable for its actions.
Transparency also provides a way for a company to measure and communicate its progress toward achieving its sustainability goals. By openly sharing information about its sustainability efforts and performance, a company can show that it is making progress and identify areas where it needs to improve.
This information can also be used to communicate progress to stakeholders, including customers, investors, and employees, and to build a positive reputation for the company.
Together with our sister company, Lawler Consulting, Our mission at Lawler Sustainability is to make our buildings more energy-efficient, cost-effective to operate, and sustainable.
If you are interested in our sustainability solutions, please contact us here.
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