In the last column, the focus was on understanding sustainability and sustainability goals that have been defined. We also briefly touched upon what we can do as teams to ensure everything we do within our purview is sustainable.
In this piece I am focusing on how we can interlace leadership and sustainability both at an organisation level and at a personal level. Let’s look back at the context of environmental, social and economic and people, planet and profits. The question is not why, it’s how and what we do to safeguard what is left.
“We all need to work together, because there are no jobs on a dead planet; there is no equity without rights to decent work and social protection, no social justice without a shift in governance and ambition, and, ultimately, no peace for the peoples of the world without the guarantees of sustainability.” – Sharan Burrow
Sustainability is not a factor of focus only for the CSR teams and goes a lot deeper into the organisational level to ensure the practices are right and aligned to overarching sustainability. Right from usage of tissue paper and printer policies all the way to production, processes, operational flows, everything can be thought of from an angle of sustainability.
How do you go about building sustainability leadership for your own teams and how do you empower your leaders to do the same? Here are some pointers:
- Ensure all systems are integrated and interconnected and have an impact on each other and function like a network, this could be in context of people and processes.
- Track the cycle of impact all the way down to customers and their environments and through the entire process no negative impact should be allowed.
- Protect the environment, employees, stakeholders and customers through the lifecycle of business.
- Change your habits to be more sustainable – even the smallest thing can go a long way – switching off lights, drinking from a glass bottle or jug, printing on both sides of paper etc.
- Understand that the impact at a local level can have a large-scale impact at a global level and everything an organisation does, has an impact on the future.
- Use sustainability in transformation and innovation, teams and contexts and drive these with an angle of how business impact can be positive with minimum impact on the collective environment.
- Ensure consistent behaviour to sustainability approaches. Ownership and accountability are crucial at both personal and organisational levels.
- There’s a direct link to sustainability and business success in the long-term context.
As communicators, we know that anything that is not supported by strong, focussed communications can fail and miserably too… So here’s the context of communications and sustainability. As businesses struggle to enable and empower their people to be more sustainable, communications can play a significant role in solving that problem.
Sustainability communications can be made relevant and fun and doesn’t need to be stoic or boring anymore. With digital channels lending themselves so comfortably to campaigns, the content can be made interactive and exciting.
Here’s what you can do with sustainability communications within the organisation:
- Getting a business context of what sustainability means to the business and what strategic direction is taken should be understood well before creating campaigns
- As all communication pieces, the audience must be the front and centre while crafting a campaign and the communications should be tailor-made to cater to the audience
- Providing context is crucial as sustainability is a journey and you need to have complete buy-in from your audience
- Leverage digital platforms to drive better engagement
- Use personal threads and stories to connect the audience beyond just business context
- There’s a strong connection between sustainability and inclusion practices, using this connection can have better amplification
- Make it simple and easy and consumable
- Use design and creativity to make it more compelling
- Ensure all information and data is accurate and transparency is followed as this builds trust
I hope that all our businesses see the value of building sustainable products and services and model their plans to be impactful across the spectrum of people, planet and profits…