Sustainability is the process of becoming sustainable. We are all at different stages in that process, but globally we need to rapidly accelerate our movement towards operating sustainably. We support companies from small to global players at the forefront of corporate sustainability action.
Developing a sustainability strategy is a vital part of integrating sustainability into how an organisation functions on a day-to-day basis. Director level sign off ensures there is the organisational mandate for change and leadership support. However, to gain ful director level support requires the careful consideration of the risks, opportunities and deployment pace alongside the existing business strategy.
At Spring, we have developed a 5 step process for the successful implementation of a sustainability strategy. We have been using this process for over 7 years to move clients from first engagement to class-leading in less than a year. We have been fortunate enough to work with clients who become leaders in their class, win awards and now drive the industry forward. We work extensively with a global telecommunications giant who is consistently rated in the worldwide top 10 for sustainability.
Each step aims to ask the following questions at a level of detail to ensure the next stage has a solid foundation for success.
1. Engage - What’s the organisational ‘worldview’ on sustainability?
The first step in any journey is to understand where you are today. To answer this question fully and to ensure complete buy-in to the later stages, requires input from all levels of the organisation. Paying great attention to prevailing attitudes is vital to ensure the pitch of the communications approach for the sustainability plan resonates with the concerns of the organisation. The approach is two-way, we use our extensive knowledge of global sustainability approaches and supporting a top 10 rated global telecommunications company to communicate corporate best practices to the key stakeholders.
2. Start Point - Where are you now?
Quantification and strategic positioning is a key part of this stage. We need to develop an in-depth understanding of the starting point through the lens of sustainability. This means understanding where the significant sources of carbon emissions occur as part of the organisation’s value chain. It means understanding the current and future product mix through the lens of sustainability. We need to understand any past activities to reduce the environmental and social footprint and how effective they were.
3. End Point - Where do you want to be?
To deliver an effective sustainability strategy, there needs to be a clear definition of success. There are a dizzying array of sustainability targets and reporting methodologies that companies can use to generate their desired end point. “Net Zero”, Carbon neutral, Science Based Targets, biodiversity net gain, GRI, SASB are just a few of the approaches available. At this point we discuss the need for recognition and any third party certification requirements that may be driven by stakeholder needs. Sustainability is expected to be at the forefront of driving fundamental business change, so developing a long term sustainability mission is a key facet.
We must reach an understanding of the resources available. A plan without resources is an aspiration. We use an iterative approach with stakeholders and best practice benchmarking to highlight the level of resources that are likely to be required for the delivery of the sustainability ambition.
4. Strategy Development - How do we achieve our sustainability goals effectively and efficiently?
The key actions in this phase are to identify the actions that will move the organisation to its desired end state. The options can be short term and implemented immediately or longer term where there are technology gaps.
Sustainability is ultimately good for business - sustainability supports cost reduction through activities like energy efficiency or can drive innovation through identifying the lifecycle impacts of the products and services delivered.
We work collaboratively with our clients to work through a long list of sustainability opportunities to one that is practical, cost effective and delivers. A key differentiating factor in the Spring approach is to develop robust models so that organisations can demonstrate with confidence the impact of their improvement plans. Our modelling capability is a key part of our DNA.
The outcome is a sustainability strategy with clear targets, costed, resourced and quantified improvements. Where necessary, the plan will be aligned with an agreed reporting methodology to ensure stakeholder confidence.
5. Roll out - How do we engage and monitor progress?
The changes required to successfully achieve the sustainability goal will impact everyone in the organisation. Consequently, we need to communicate the plan to all, reflect how their feedback in stage 1 was incorporated and for senior management to demonstrate leadership. Staff at all levels need to understand how the action plan will be implemented in their areas of responsibility and how their contributions are incredibly valuable to achieving the overall goal.
Management structures including the need for internal champions, data provision and accountability are necessary. Ensuring sustainability is referenced on every job specification is a key part of ‘normalisation’.
Call our team to discuss how we can help you embed best-in-class sustainability programmes that deliver immediate results
If you would like to find out how we can help your business excel in the 21st century, please get in touch for a free hour consultation.