How to Make Corporate Sustainability a Way of Life

As Corporate Sustainability Reporting (CSR) cements its place in corporate affairs, it’s worth understanding what it involves and how companies large and small can benefit.

Firstly, what is Corporate Sustainability? It is defined as “an approach aimed at creating long-term stakeholder value through the implementation of a business strategy that focuses on the ethical, social, environmental, cultural, and economic dimensions of doing business.”

Thus, concepts like ‘corporate social responsibility’ and ‘sustainable business practices’ have now become mainstream. Today large companies produce award winning sustainability reports, in addition to their annual reports. Whether large or small however, companies can take meaningful steps towards making sure their businesses are socially responsible and sustainable.

Obviously, there is a ‘green’ component involved too as the strategy seeks to create long-term consumer and employee value by taking into consideration the environment, our dependence on it and the dire need to protect it. Regardless of the size of the organization, there are things we can all do to participate in conserving resources. Here are some ways:

Make Sustainability a Conscious Choice

Incorporate sustainability into your corporate strategies and make sure it is included in your company’s business goals. Make a plan of action and assign roles and responsibilities so that everyone is accountable, because results will be expected and measured. Make sure everyone is invested and sees the bigger picture.

Educate and Train Employees

The concept of sustainability may not come naturally to everyone so take the time to train staff on the importance of environmental sustainability.

Communicate what your organization is doing and your goals for conserving resources. Open up the discussion and seek employees’ ideas and suggestions for resource conservation.

Employees themselves might have ideas to help reduce wastage and improve their work environment. Solutions can be a simple as using energy-efficient (LED) bulbs, switching off lights, turning off AC when not needed, switching all appliances off at the plug point, recycling used paper and switching to email based billing and receipts.

For those who bring their own rice and curry lunch for instance, point out how unnecessary and harmful plastic lunch sheets are and discourage the practice. Where possible encourage employees to carpool  instead of driving on their own in an empty car.

In house Recycling

Implement an in-house program for recyclable products such as:

  • -plastics
  • -paper products
  • -fluorescent light-bulbs
  • -electronics
  • -computers and monitors

Conserve Water and Electricity

Conserving water is something we can all participate in by reducing the opportunities for wasting this valuable resource. As Management you need to review your energy efficiency policy and take measures to install energy efficient taps, toilets and lighting for instance. You can encourage staff to take the stairs instead of calling the lift – much healthier for them too. Are you in a position to install solar power?

Are your Partners and Suppliers Environmentally Friendly?

When questioned, customers and consumers will admit they are happy to work with companies that share their environmental and sustainability concerns. Where possible select vendors and suppliers who engage in sustainable business practices. For instance, when supplies are delivered see whether the supplier can take back the packaging materials, and investigate whether vendors have recycling facilities.

Encourage Community Service

Get employees engaged! Are there gardeners or agriculturists among your staff? If you have even the smallest available outdoor space encourage folks to grow edibles – veg, fruit, herbs. This can be done in pots too on balconies, car parks, just about anywhere.

As a company or business participate in beach, river, lake and neighbourhood clean ups or create your own project. Select an area of your work neighborhood and spruce it up – paint, weed, trim, sweep. Sponsor (either financially or with your manpower), the maintenance of a roundabout, park, school, orphanage or any other deserving institution.

Once people taste the small successes, they’ll be motivated to tackle bigger projects. As the Chinese proverb by Lao Tzu states, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’.

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