To a sustainable organization with these 6 actions

We all have a responsibility to make the world a little better. As a person and as an organisation. Making the world more beautiful, that is sustainability. Does your organisation want to get started with this? Then that can be quite a challenge. Because as soon as the pressure of work increases, people fall back into their old patterns. How can an organisation succeed in becoming more sustainable? Six actions to take now:

  1. Identify goals and commit to them

Why are you on earth as an organization? What sustainable goals do you want to achieve? And how do you want to achieve this? Make this clear. Identify yourself as management with these goals. And commit to it all: management and employees. It is important to approach this strategically, aligning business priorities with relevant sustainable development goals. And by involving customers, employees and others in creating a positive impact.

  1. Develop goals and KPIs

How do you set your goals? A good guideline are the 17 sustainable goals set by the UN. Such as: ‘Prevent food from being thrown away’, ‘Affordable and clean energy’, Fair and social economic growth’, ‘Sustainable production and consumption’, ‘Equal opportunities for all’ and ‘Healthy oceans, seas and rivers’. In doing so, also establish the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is crucial for monitoring progress. To measure is to know for sure.

  1. Make sustainability part of your business strategy

It is important that sustainability is not just a side issue, but an integral part of your business strategy. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. Analyze whether business strategies are sustainable and adjust business models as needed. See if the products and services the organization develops are sustainable. Do they contribute anything to the world? And what about the supply chain? Is it lean and mean? Can you outsource certain activities so that you can devote more time and attention to your own contribution to the world? Or can you do more yourself, making the chain more (cost) efficient and saving environmentally damaging transport movements?

  1. Create new opportunities for your organization

It is still too often thought that sustainability measures only cost money. But sustainability also offers opportunities: for the company itself and for the environment. A good example is a manufacturing company in Brazil that is located in a large city and was having trouble finding good staff. This company decided to start a training program for unskilled people in rural areas. They gave the people education and thus opportunities. The company got the labor they needed. And because the training sessions took place in the village itself, there was even more solidarity between fellow villagers. All benefits, then.

So, invest. In education and staff. In innovative products and services developed in a sustainable way. And see how you can grow with that.

  1. Cooperation is key

We all have a role to play in this world. Give each other that role. And work together. Good cooperation is the magic word in sustainable business. Between colleagues. With customers, suppliers and academics. Between profit and non-profit organizations. And between industries. The goal: mutually beneficial solutions. Leveraging networks. Scale up. And share responsibility. At least as important are collaborations with governments, cities and civil society. With the aim of harnessing the financial, technological and human resources of the business community to promote development, stability and trade.

  1. Measure, assess, report and communicate

What do all these efforts yield? Measure the results of your sustainable projects and deployments. And communicate about this within and outside the organisation. The best way is to involve employees in this. This is done by developing systems for employees to report on sustainability targets and their results. Preferably as part of their daily operations.

Start small

Implementing sustainability in your organization is not always easy. Because change is hard. And all kinds of circumstances make it usually easier to continue on the old foot. Nevertheless, it is important to work towards a sustainable organisation. Why? Because that means you’re ready for the future. And because then you know for sure that you are really contributing something. This will only succeed if you formulate clear sustainability objectives and actually integrate them into the organisation’s goals.

Rest assured: you can start small and already make a sustainable contribution to your organisation’s immediate environment. You can build from there. Step by step and purposefully. Good for the environment, good for the organization.

Multiple value creation

Sustainable business requires companies to look beyond financial gain and also consider people and the environment. This calls for multiple value creation, in which economic, ecological and social values are in balance. It requires a different way of working for organisations and a new form of leadership: value-creating leadership.

Do you want to know more about value creating leadership? Then download the ebook Leadership in the Economy of Value below. Or
click here
for our leadership training courses.

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dr. Pim Valentijn

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