Giselle Weybrecht, author of The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide To Green Business, recommends five steps to take to get started with the implementation of sustainable business practices within an organization: assess where your firm is now; gain a thorough understanding of the regulations that affect your organization; define your strategy and approach to sustainability as well as your drivers; create realistic targets and objectives; and be prepared to monitor your activities, reevaluate your efforts and adjust your strategy to the ever-changing sustainability industry.
I recently read The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide To Green Business, by Giselle Weybrecht. It’s been quite an interesting read, providing managers and business owners with a simple, easy to follow framework to implement sustainable business practices into their organization.
One of the chapters that stood out in this book was “Getting Started.” It’s now well known that businesses should implement environmentally and socially responsible business practices for ethical and economic reasons. But how do you actually get started?
Here are some of Giselle’s recommendations:
1. Understand where you are now.
Start by thinking about the type of company you manage or work for. Explore what is currently happening and whether you can build on other initiatives already taking place in the company or if you should start a new one. Answer the following questions:
– Where do you currently stand?
– How is your organization impacted by society and the environment?
– What impact does your organization have on society and the environment?
– What issues are important to you?
– What kind of a culture does your company have?
Read Giselle’s Post Eight Ways to Bring Sustainability Into Any Job
2. Find out what’s happening around you.
Now that you understand what is happening in your organization and the issues that affect you, take a look at what’s happening in terms of regulations, best practices and interesting initiatives others are doing. Address the following considerations:
– What regulations affect you?
– What voluntary mechanisms are out there?
– What is the rest of the industry doing?
– What are the perceived best practices?
3. Decide where you want to go and why.
At this stage, you’re starting to define your strategy and approach to sustainability. You will need to identify your drivers, baseline, budget and the best point of entry. You will also develop the business case and identify the framework and tools that will work for you.
4. Engage others and gather support.
Experience shows that, in order for sustainability to be successfully mainstreamed into an organization, employees, the CEO and other stakeholders must be fully engaged. Engagement requires building relationships not only with your customers and suppliers, but also with communities, social groups, governments and citizens. You will need to:
– Confirm CEO/management commitment;
– Build cooperation internally;
– Engage business partners and clients;
– Identify and engage stakeholders;
– Connect with outside networks.
5. Put your plan in place and make it happen.
Develop a roadmap with clear objectives and goals to help the company go where it wants to go. You will need to make short, medium and long-term considerations when drafting your strategy:
– Create realistic targets and objectives (the so-called SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific).
– Create a structure and pilot projects.
– Align business systems.
– Give people the tools.
6. Keep it going.
Things don’t stop once you put your plan in motion. You will need to monitor your activities, reevaluate your efforts and adjust your strategy to the ever-changing sustainability industry. Keep in mind that successful strategies take time and effort to implement and should be continuously revisited. The following suggestions will boost the success rate of your sustainability initiatives:
– Communicate internally and externally.
– Look for continuous improvement.
Once you implement this framework – or a similar one – to your sustainability programs, you should see an increase in brand awareness, employee retention rate and customer satisfaction.
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