Start your Sustainability Strategy

5min read

What is a sustainability strategy?


It is the detail behind your sustainability policy.  A roadmap to how you will achieve your sustainability targets.


  1.   What is your current position? – look back before you look forward


Without a review of your current position, it is hard to determine where you can realistically take things.


Establishing a baseline is the first step when creating a successful strategy. It helps you take stock of where you are, identifies what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and – importantly – why.


Ask yourself:

  • Have we set the correct targets to achieve our goals? (VIEW our guidance on targets)
  • Are our processes delivering results?
  • And are our stakeholders engaged?


  1.   Focus on what matters most in your organisation and local communities

This approach will make it much easier to engage your stakeholders.


Do not overload yourself! Recognise your time and resource constraints. Your business should be selective in where it focuses its attention. Ask yourself:

  • What will impact our organisation regarding growth, cost and risk?
  • What is essential to our investors, employees, customers, supply chain and other stakeholders?
  • What is happening in our local communities, we can strive to tackle/support?


Most organisations will have at least two targets across environmental, social and governance areas.


  1.   Explore your data

You can’t manage what you don’t track. 


To make progress, you need to know what data to capture to understand your impact. To do this, you need to find your current position (step 1), set measurable targets, gather (assured) data and track your progress. 


For example, a global wholesale and retail company with over 50 sites captures the same carbon data. They use this to develop benchmarks and KPIs, enabling the carbon intensity of sites to be compared. This data is also used to identify locations for low-carbon investment, awards and accreditations. 


An added benefit of recording progress is that you can share your successes with investors, customers, employees and other stakeholders.


  1.   Invest in the process, not just the goal

Work with what you have and what people are familiar with.


While having clarity on what you want to achieve is essential, taking time to consider how you will approach your sustainability targets is also vital.


You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at how you capture your data now and enhance, adapt or refine it to add more value to your business. For example, review your environmental management systems, health and safety processes or procurement journeys and add an extra line/question to those excels/surveys to link back to your sustainability targets.


It is also important to establish dedicated teams to collate this data and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to drive progress and deliver lasting change.


  1.   Keep up the momentum

Engage advocates across your business


We all love to deliver on the targets we care about. Sharing your sustainability targets across your teams and seeking out advocates to champion them from the ground up will maximise their success in being achieved.


Open up your communications channels and allow for two-way conversations, working groups, regular internal updates, and training to inspire engagement and motivate people into action.


  1.   Don’t let all the noise stop your progress


“The UN SDGs are elitist”


“ESG is dead”


“Don’t greenwash”


“Don’t offset”


You might have heard some of these headlines, and we want to be clear…


Keep going if your business can evidence a well-thought-out and authentic desire to do good.   


Don’t get stuck on the acronyms and abbreviations, frameworks and headlines. Don’t let fear immobilise your business.


Educate yourself and your teams, make it matter (and work) for your organisation and collaborate in your industry for good.


We all need to start somewhere.


  1.   Celebrate your achievements


Public reporting done well is key to showing stakeholders that you are transparent and accountable. 


Demonstrating that your strategy accepts the challenges of your industry while understanding the context of global issues helps to build confidence that your organisation is serious about managing environmental and social impacts.


It’s not about being ‘best in class’ it’s about demonstrating your willingness as an organisation to strive towards best practice.


Source: Ricardo plc


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