There has been a positive shift towards sustainability in all walks of life, driven primarily by the emergence of global climate consciousness. While businesses have begun moving in the right direction, there is a lot that still needs to be achieved. As organisations strive to have a clear and long-term strategy for their products and consumers, it is equally important for businesses to think about having a long term strategy for value creation, by instilling their business practices with sustainability.
It is now pivotal for sustainability to be ingrained into the corporate fabric of the organisations; to permeate into workplace protocols, business processes and even value propositions. This can have a significant positive impact on organisations, beginning with a reduction in energy, wastage, emissions and operational costs while also contributing towards organisation reputation, employee retention and an ecosystem goodwill. The pursuit of sustainability also spurs innovations, for new products, processes and policies and can bolster the resilience of the supply chain by enhancing operational efficiency. Making sustainability a key business priority can help bring in a sense of purpose and responsibility towards the planet, embedding it across all the functions can also help businesses comply with regulations, leading to a reduction in wastage, carbon footprint and potential environmental hazards.
While companies are recognizing the need to act on sustainability and it is not to say that businesses do not have the intention, however, including sustainability into long term strategy needs organisational ambition, holistic thinking, ecosystem approach and focused execution.
Aligning strategy and sustainability: Sustainability might present systematic challenges to be solved for, to begin with and it is vital to note that just good intentions of a business may not be enough, if it doesn’t translate into concrete action. Just ambitious agendas are not enough, making small meaningful edits to processes, material sourcing, operational efficiency can be practical steps in this direction. Marrying sustainability with the core business and weaving it into the mainstream business strategy can effectively influence decision making.
Developing future ready sustainability policies: It is important that organisations build a playbook with policies that can influence its critical decision making towards sustainability practices and the communities it can affect positively while involving them in the process. Organisations must think proactively to plan than wait for an external policy change or a crisis to fast track sustainability efforts. This may involve designing the business plan and the future roadmap for the organisation in a way that leads to positive social and ecological impact for the society. By doing this, organisations can actively contribute to their own transformation into a sustainable business.
Leadership commitment: Leaders need to understand their roles as change agents, motivating and aligning teams and systems to make Sustainability a central agenda, a business goal and purpose that everyone rallies behind. Leaders across industries need to draw up public commitments, allocate resources and document progress. Public reporting is a strong signal of commitment and leaders must look at sustainability beyond just compliance and actively work towards being a part of the solution.
Engaging the ecosystem: No business works in isolation and the well being of employees, communities and the planet is tied to the health of the business. No single business can tackle challenges and a collective voice helps fastrack the adoption of sustainability practices. It is imperative to look at the challenges and opportunities with a lens that involves peers, communities, stakeholders, governments to work together and make systematic changes, develop resources and raise awareness on relevant issues.
Read the rest of Mahesh Pratap Singh’s article here at ETRetail.com