If you feel the pressure to operate a truly sustainable business, you’re not alone.
Today more than ever SMEs are under the microscope in their environmental and social practices. Without proper sustainability strategy, what often happens is so called “green washing”; companies painting themselves as sustainable when they truly aren’t.
Take a moment to forget about the external pressure to be sustainable.
Sustainability should be inspired from within your organization. It should be authentic and customized to what is important to you, and your team.
In this article, I’ll provide five initiatives to help you build a solid foundation in sustainability. One where your staff can participate, and collaborate to develop processes you will be proud of.
By focusing on your impact, instead of how you are perceived, will undoubtedly pave the way to better relationships within your organization, and externally with community partners and local suppliers. In the end, these are the relationships that will provide long-term organizational value.
For now, forget about that sustainability marketing campaign that will undoubtedly put you in a vulnerable position. Instead, using these steps focus on developing sustainability within your organization, and your efforts will shine through when the time is right.
Source goods and services from social enterprises, local suppliers, or indigenous suppliers.
When developing this initiative be sure to switch suppliers over a period of time. An immediate supply-chain shift can cause great uncertainties to your daily operations.
Not only is this initiative great for your community, but it can also help you receive goods and services much quicker due to the close proximity of localized suppliers.
From an environmental perspective, a tight-knit supply-chain reduces emissions and energy usage, therefore, reducing your impact on local ecosystems.
Develop a cross-departmental sustainability committee.
A sustainability committee can mobilize your efforts, and provide a voice for individuals at all levels of your organization. The benefits of a sustainability committee are immense in its primary purpose, and for wider organizational motives such as collaboration and direction.
You can start by organizing a meeting to discuss the vision for your sustainability committee, “Establishing a platform for our team to participate in the planning of our sustainable impact internally, and externally in our community, local environment and supply-chain.” Then at the following meeting allow your team to volunteer for certain positions.
Once the sustainability committee is in motion you can schedule monthly meetings to track your progress and plan for future objectives.
Create targets for diverse staff at every level of your organization.
I’m confident that all organizations want diverse teams, but unfortunately, the facts say we have a long way to go. A decent way to approach this is by setting a five year timeline to achieve wide-scale diversity.
Focus on onboarding people that meet your requirements and are of under-represented groups including racial minorities, women, LGBTQ2 individuals, and people with disabilities. On that topic, a fantastic organization to help companies onboard people with disabilities is Accessible Employers.
Find community partners to work with on ongoing community-building and sustainability initiatives.
Going at sustainability alone can be seriously challenging, so why not team up with local organizations that you can leverage with your team and resources? Nearly every city has local environmental and community-building organizations that can use assistance.
Find an organization that aligns with your company or one that your team is passionate to work with. Collectively, you can achieve a great deal. Remember, the purpose of this partnership is to further integrate your company into the community, understanding community-members, and important local sustainability issues.
Have an energy assessment completed then purchase appliances that are more energy-efficient and reduce GHG emissions
By reaching out to BC Hydro or whomever your local energy providers are, you can often access a free energy assessment.
BC Hydro will work alongside your management team to provide an analysis of how energy efficient you currently are within your industry, and the best energy management opportunities for your organization.
You’ll have the opportunity to invest in high-efficiency appliances to reduce your costs and environmental impact in the medium to long term.
We can help
Collaboration is the essence of sustainability. Partnering with individuals and organizations to reduce environmental impact, and improve quality of life for staff and community members is what we do best.
Sustainability should be inspired from within your organization, and it is our focus to understand what motivates your team. You can learn more about our process here.
Whether partnering with our team or going at it alone you can use these initiatives as a foundation for your sustainability program.
Make sustainability your own.
Forget about how you are perceived, but rather focus on the impact your organization has; in time the immense benefits of sustainability will come your way.