Integrating sustainability into the DNA of your organisation
- Clear commitment and leadership: the shift from environmental management to integrated sustainability is no mean feat and not one that can happen by osmosis. Change of this level requires true leadership.
- A sustainability strategy: this is the framework which guides an organisation towards sustainability. It must either be integrated into, or at least be convergent with, the overall business strategy. If it sits out on its own, it is toast.
- Long term goals: sustainability can’t be delivered overnight, so that strategy must have long term goals (long term = 5+ years). Having a series of interim targets (eg cutting carbon by 20% by 2015 to hit a goal of a 40% cut by 2020) gives a stronger focus to current activity within the context of the longer term goal.
- Alignment of systems and operations to sustainability: your supply chain, internal operations, product/service plus all the supporting processes like HR, Finance and Contracts must be shaped to deliver sustainability.
- Total (or near total buy-in): stakeholders inside and outside the organisation must buy into what is going on – this includes employees, customers, suppliers and regulators. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to change – it may be that your strategy is designed to, say, delight your customers as your new sustainable product is so good in terms of performance and price.
Easy? In a word, no. Sustainability is widely regarded as one of the key boardroom challenges of the 21st Century, but senior executives feel ill-equipped to deliver on it. This is why I wrote my latest book, The Green Executive, and the maturity model is at the heart of the book as you can see if you download this sample chapter.