With sustainability remaining a hot topic on the business agenda, organisations are expected to have a robust sustainability plan in place but creating and launching a strategy is no easy task. If you are responsible for sustainability at your company then you have probably been asked for your plan but found yourself struggling for an answer.
It’s useful to have a simple plan to hand to show the steps your company is taking and the progress you’ve made. A solid sustainability strategy will help boost business by staying profitable and competitive, can attract talent for whom this is an important organisational value, and help you to meet your internal commitment to doing ‘the right thing’.
You’ll need a team of engaged people who are committed to getting your sustainability strategy off the ground
It also helps you to define who is responsible for what and how they should work together, as well as providing good practical tips on how to achieve your targets.
To get started on your strategy, check out the steps below.
1. Form a team
This is one of the most important steps of the process. You’ll need a team of engaged people who are committed to getting your sustainability strategy off the ground. This team needs to include everyone from the CEO down, as sustainability touches all parts of the business.
It can be particularly useful to involve people from finance/operations to help identify the right data, marketing for sharing your results publicly, and the leadership team to advise and sign off on the actions you need to take.
2. Measure and benchmark
To take action on your emissions you first need to understand what the company’s carbon footprint is. This can sometimes become a long and arduous process but it doesn’t have to be.
The data that you need is spread across three areas (or ‘scopes’ in official language). These are scope one: the fuel you use to heat your building, scope two: the electricity you use, and scope three: the emissions from your supply chain.
Use the results from your measurement to understand the hotspots in your company and the areas you need to focus on
To do this, you need data from across the company including your energy bills, fuel used, water, waste, and the emissions from your top suppliers. However, many utility companies show your fuel and electricity usage on your invoice and may even detail the CO2 emitted.
Details on your supply chain can be harder to access but luckily there are a number of online tools that can help to speed up this process. Once you have the results you can use benchmarks to underpin your sustainability targets and provide a reference for where you are in comparison.
3. Analyse and plan
The hard work is now complete! Use the results from your measurement to understand the hotspots in your company and the areas you need to focus on. Not everything can be done right away. You should split these out so that you have a list of quick wins and longer term projects that need more investment.
Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) objectives to ensure you can track against these. This analysis should form the basis of your sustainability strategy.
4. Action your plan
If you have sign off from your team you can start to action these objectives and watch your emissions fall. Reach out to your energy suppliers to see if they provide renewable energy, and engage with building managers to implement energy saving solutions. You can also contact your top suppliers to further understand their emissions and the actions they are taking.
Sign up to sustainability initiatives to publicly demonstrate your commitment and align with global standards
Banks have also started to offer green loans to help companies to reduce their emissions. These often come at a discounted rate and can be a useful way of investing in emissions reduction technologies at a lower cost. You can also look at our guide: 5 ways you can start to reduce your emissions here.
5. Engage and share
It’s important to develop and engage with your team on your sustainability strategy. With an understanding of the company wide benefits that sustainability can deliver, your team can help you to reach these targets.
6. Track and review
The last step is to monitor and check your progress throughout the year. This helps your company to consistently reach it’s targets and helps to keep the planet aligned with the 1.5 degree target. At the end of your reporting year you can share your progress with the team. Highlight the success of your initiatives, discuss areas for improvement, and set your plan for 2023!