They say that a goal without a plan is just a wish. That goes for many things in life – including your business’s sustainability goals. Enter the sustainability strategy.
What is a sustainability strategy? Simply put, it’s a written declaration of how your business plans to improve its sustainability. The form it takes may vary, but a good sustainability plan will include:
- clearly stated goals.
- the strategies you plan to employ to meet those goals.
- a timeline for reaching them.
What is sustainability, anyway? Often when people think of ‘sustainability,’ environmental impact immediately comes to mind. That’s a big part of it: a good sustainability strategy commits to improving a business’s impact on this earth, and should address goals and planned actions related to fighting pollution and addressing climate change.
But today’s sustainability mindset must be expanded to include your impact not only on our physical world – but the society we live in, as well. In short, it’s about your company taking ownership of its part in solving some of the problems that are all around us. That includes equity and human rights.
Benefits for you, too. A sustainability plan will be your guide in ensuring your company is working toward making our world a healthier, stronger, more resilient place. The good news is it gives the same benefits to your company. Don’t assume that a sustainability plan is strictly an altruistic effort – there are tangible benefits you’ll enjoy for years to come (more on that later in our series!).
Be inspired by others. Sustainability strategies are increasingly common, and there are lot of great ones out there. Before you embark on your own, see what others are doing. We’ve rounded up a few examples for you to be inspired by:
Disney. In 2020, the company announced a sustainability strategy that was by no means Mickey Mouse. It released goals it wishes to reach by 2030 in five categories – greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste, materials and sustainable design. Disney’s plans run the gamut from achieving net zero emissions for direct operations to serving sustainably sourced seafood at its eateries.
IKEA. This plan IKEA put together is an update from its 2012 version – the company readjusted its sustainability plan to better reflect an adapting world. It focuses on three things: sustainable and healthy living, climate, and equality. IKEA wants to make progress on everything from sustainable raw materials to gender equality by 2030, and plans to use its size and influence to drive overall positive change.
Duke Realty – In 2015, the United Nations released 17 sustainable development goals (SDCs) as part of its Agenda 2030, and pointed out that businesses have an important role to play in reaching them. Duke Realty took seven of those goals and tackles them in its sustainability strategy, with tactics ranging from efficient lighting to diversity in the boardroom.
Whether your business is big or small, a sustainability strategy is a smart – even vital – piece of it. Our five-part blog series will guide you through the process of building one. Next up, we’ll take a deep dive into the benefits of having a sustainability strategy – including the financial perks.