Less than one-third of U.S. employees surveyed reported that their organisations engage in practices that embed sustainability goals in business models and employee roles.
While many companies talk the talk of sustainability, claiming to be integrating environmental and societal concerns into their business models, far fewer walk the walk. Some have been successful in transforming their business models to be more sustainable have embedded sustainability into their corporate DNA.
This means that they have endowed their employees with a sense of sustainable ownership, spurring them to engage in more sustainability-supporting behaviours. When every employee integrates environmental and social concerns into every business decision, sustainability progress is accelerated — an aspirational goal for all companies.
Here are six key recommendations to embed sustainability in the organisational culture and business models:-
1. Establish a purpose based on values. Purpose is a business’s raison d’être — the answer to the all-important question, “Why do we do what we do?” Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and a leader in the corporate sustainability movement, has said, “Sustainability is totally driven by purpose.” Organisations that are successful at embedding sustainability articulate the societal benefit they aim to deliver to their stakeholders, and this overarching purpose guides everything the organisation does.
2. Bake sustainability into corporate strategy. Doing so increases the likelihood that, over time, “doing the green thing” will be seen as a normal part of employees’ jobs, and more and more decisions will be made through the lens of sustainability.
3. Train employees to give guidance on how to improve sustainability and incentivise actions that advance sustainability.Companies need to invest more in training and sustainability knowledge creation so that employees know what they can do in their roles and how to do what needs to be done.
4. Create a sustainability culture in your organisation by communicating progress, celebrating milestones, recognizing achievements, and collaborating on solutions both internally and with industry partners.
5. Conduct business through a sustainability lens. Imagine the progress we would make if every employee in every company — from the mailroom to the boardroom — integrated environmental and social issues into every business decision they made.
6. Bridge the last mile between corporate and front-line employees. Broadly communicated messaging about the corporate purpose and environmental, social, and governance targets might not suffice in this instance; there is a real need to drive sustainability through practical initiatives and actions that can be integrated into daily tasks and routines that employees perform across the entire organisation.
Find out more from MIT Sloan’s article.