How to use standards to underpin your Sustainability efforts
Environmental and Sustainability standards are often regarded as a bit lowest common denominator when it comes to implementing a Sustainability Strategy. However at yesterday’s Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group meeting, one member explained how he saw them. “You always want to go above the standard, but you can use them to shore up what you have achieved so far.” he said (under the Chatham House Rule I can’t say who ‘he’ is).
This triggered an analogy in my head. Imagine you are a climber ascending Mount Sustainability (an analogy borrowed from Interface). Every so often, a mountain climber will affix a piton or cam to the rock face to hold the rope. If they slip while they are claiming above that point, the piton will stop the rope and arrest their fall. They can then regain their composure and attempt to pass the piton again until they gain enough height for another piton.
One of the great things about standards is once you’ve got a certificate on the front lobby wall, no-one, least of all senior management, likes to lose it – those rectangles of fresh paint are plain embarrassing. Therefore each standard attained acts like a piton in your ascent. If there’s a sudden set back (a change of boss, a buy-out, a profits slump etc), this is as far as you will fall (hopefully – pitons do come loose now and then).
Does it work for you?