Why it's important for companies to have a sustainability strategy
By: Michael Paine and Tanner Gold
It is important for companies to have a sustainability strategy to participate in one of the revolutions defining this century. Promotion and awareness of environmental benefits can be found in all industries and locations around the globe. Here at Rest Space, a sleeping pod and workplace wellness company we have conceptualized a sustainability strategy to do our part in this advancement. From a top-down perspective, clear communication and messaging related to addressing the climate crisis results in increased customer engagement, financial benefits, and a role in the greater green business community. From there, granular and digestible goals will help spur your team into action and ingrain awareness into their daily workflows - which produce the yearly output.
Though the concept of sustainability strategy may seem intimidating to some with its risks of greenwashing and fear of a “green goblin” taking over the company, these fears are unfounded. Studies show [Forbes] that starting with a preliminary sustainability strategy, even on a small level, is an effective way to modernize and inspire innovation from employees and stakeholders. A good starting point for a sustainability strategy is an examination of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These are 17 explicit priorities defined and agreed upon by the international council to advance sustainable development for nations and corporations. Select the goals most relevant to your enterprise, whether it's a product or a service business, with some core and some aspirational ones. Consider the implementation of an in-depth focus on a few for greater impact (1-3) with a breadth focus on a wider swath (1-8) in order to strike a balance in distilling your strategy. JetBlue is one of the first airline companies to commit to the UN’s goal commitment by 2030. They admit and have committed to the campaign for net zero global emissions and to eliminate the unnecessary emissions they have as a company.
What are some things companies can do to improve their sustainability?
Foster sustainability in company culture with increased awareness and active recruitment of employees with experience in sustainable efforts
Seek to integrate sustainable suppliers into your supply chain
Advocate for authentic green business practices through messaging and marketing campaigns
Stay open to partnerships and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives in your sector of business and beyond
It is important to encourage a spirit of collaboration and inclusion along the creation of the sustainability strategy process. While a defined leader, CSO, or VP of sustainability with both high-level academic scientific research and real-world business experience can provide executive leadership and oversight in larger organizations, they should not dominate the conversation. For example the National Health Service in the UK has Dr. Nick Watts who serves as the chief sustainability officer. He strives to create a net zero emission health service. From valuing customer feedback through surveys, and taking note of ideas from service, intern, and junior roles - senior leadership will then have a broader and more clearly informed view of the organization's needs, wants, and current positioning of sustainable efforts. The ideas ideally are advocated for and in constant evolution through consultation to refine and redefine principles as the organization grows over time. Responses to geopolitical, financial, technological, and personnel challenges will increase the resilience of strategy in a dynamic and interconnected world. Taking the basic steps towards sustainability strategy may not immediately fix yesterday’s missteps but jumping into the green pool will yield results for your business today, tomorrow, and in the future.