Most companies already understand the importance and benefits of sustainability, but there is still a significant gap between sustainability commitment and actual impactful actions. But how can companies close this gap?
Actions speak louder than words, as they say, and never has the world been more ready to go by this common phrase. While most companies have shown some level of commitment towards sustainability or social responsibility, actions are still largely just covering the surface level of our problems, and a few others are plain greenwashing strategies.
By now it is already quite clear that sustainability is a key driving factor for business success, yet the gap between commitment and actual impactful performance is still larger than we can afford in terms of environmental needs.
Furthermore, oftentimes there seems to be an additional gap between sustainability commitments or strategies and the many actors that play a part in the supply or value chain of a given company, including employees themselves. Although sustainability tends to start at the top, there needs to be a consistent effort to make it an integral part of the company as it is the only way to drive effective action.
A lack of communication and collaboration across stakeholders can kill sustainability success.
4 Steps to transform commitment into action
Across the world companies agree on the importance of sustainability for strengthening their business performance and brand reputation. However, few have taken the necessary holistic approach and steps to translate sustainability into the source of innovation and wellbeing that it is. Here are four crucial steps to transform commitment into action:
Create a top down sustainability plan
Good leadership is essential for any kind of strategy or operation to be successful, and sustainability is no stranger to this reality. In fact a recent study by Oxford Economics and SAP shows two thirds of respondents felt sustainability strategies were more likely to succeed when senior leadership is involved. Nonetheless, this has also led many to believe there is no need for collaboration between certain stakeholders for sustainability to succeed, including employees, regulatory bodies or suppliers among others.
A good example of this paradox is the fact that while almost 92% of sustainability leaders agree that industry standards have helped them comply with external standards and regulations, just 40% actively work with regulators to push more rigorous policies into their industry. This takes us to the importance of the second step on the list.
Build engagement across the company
A lack of communication and collaboration across stakeholders can kill sustainability success. As the study explains, only 38% of respondents believe the success of sustainability initiatives depend on the collaboration with employee teams and departments. But on the other hand, almost 90% of them believed in the importance of developing worker skills and capabilities in favor of sustainability, and there is an additional overall consensus on the need for a diverse and inclusive workplace culture as the basis for any sustainability strategy’s success.
We can see a clear disconnection between what is applied and what is communicated as people believe in the need for upskilling and reskilling but not in their collaborative relevance. This problem seems to stem from the lack of a cohesive plan or roadmap that includes such things as diversity or education onto the sustainability metrics.
Measure and track sustainability data across the company
Data is one of the most crucial elements for sustainability success, as it helps provide insight into operations’ and practices’ environmental impact and efficiency, as well as fostering faster decision making that does not come at the expense of neither stakeholder returns nor sustainability. But measuring the most relevant data and doing it right is what companies find most difficult, which in turn becomes a risk in as much as it misses on very valuable information that can deliver sustainable results and avoid regulatory fines, among other things.
Some practices companies are beginning to carry out, and which help make a better use of the data available are:
- Increase investment in data analysis or data capturing tools
- Hire trained professionals to more effectively capture sustainability data insights
- Carry out additional training sessions for employees to understand how to work under new sustainability measures
- Measure the correlation between action and performance in regards to sustainability goals
Make decisions based on sustainability data
The study shows sustainability leaders make more and better sustainable decisions when basing operation or strategy changes on performance data. This also makes the point to suggest that sustainability leaders will continue improving their sustainability performance following better outcomes, as they sophisticate decision making and data analysis.
Transparency drives the transformation
We believe and work for transparency to be one of the key values driving the sustainable business transformation, as it is the only way to understand what we are doing wrong, what we are doing right and what it is that we are not doing yet.
Because being transparent is not only an externality to a company, or a given organization, to help build trust and reputation; it is in fact also a great learning and improvement mechanism. You cannot manage what you don’t understand. And so we advocate for transparency, integrity and precision as imperatives to the fight against today’s pending challenges.
In DoGood we are convinced of the need to understand and manage efforts to achieve a sustainable transition inside an organization for the correct and efficient functioning of the business and the community it operates in. We alone cannot achieve the substantial changes necessary, but we work on the basis of collaboration, transparency and accuracy in order to bring light to sustainable actions.
In this regard, it is essential to our work to promote good corporate governance, meaning that the processes of disclosure and transparency are followed so as to provide regulators and shareholders as well as the general public with precise and accurate information about the financial, operational and other aspects of the company, including a more accurate definition of the ESG performance.
We have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.