After what was a “Snowy February” for most of us across the United States, coupled with a fair dose of Texas snow and its hilarious memes over the internet, it is only natural to be confused about climate change and the threat it poses. However, to embrace a future of business where people, the planet, and profits all equally important, we need a shift in perspective. Our businesses cannot succeed in a society that is designed to fall apart because of its obsession with profits. We must work and lobby together to build back better and increase societal resilience.
We all care about climate change, most of us want to be part of the solution. However, we lack knowledge, motivation and access to solutions making us sustainability bystanders – perennially waiting for others to take action. Instilling a sense of sustainability ownership among employees and other stakeholders is the only way forward.
In a large organization, why should sustainability be the responsibility of one department? We must make it everyone’s job. To drive this change in behavior and shift the traditional way of doing business it’s, we must rethink our communication strategy and the corporate narrative.
According to a study by PwC, today over 93% of companies describe their purpose as beyond making money for shareholders. However, only 53% of organizations have a clear purpose statement. This is not good news as the new paradigm of sustainable business requires us to build a clear, transparent narrative, positioning long-term purpose at its core. Articulating a well-defined purpose internally and externally is a necessary first step.
How do we bring purpose to life cascades purpose through the organization so that every employee internalizes that purpose?
– Inspire by going beyond profits and focusing on” the “value to society” created by the company
– Ensure that every talk given by the CEO and senior leadership touches on sustainability and firm purpose
– Highlight what has changed in the company as a result of sustainability-related business activities
“Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”– Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock
Building communication that aligns corporate and personal values is just the key first step. . It is important we build a system toolkit that drives transparency and allows stakeholders to see how they are performing both in financial and socio-environmental terms. Relating the impact of KPIs to financial benefits also makes skeptics take notice and shift the discussion from whether to what and how. To make sustainable action second nature and lower the cost while increasing the benefits of acting sustainably, it’s important we:
– Create training and management systems
– Design toolkits that make sustainability integration easily accessible
– Reward responsible behavior via financial incentives and promotions
Taking ownership of sustainability drives all stakeholders – internal and external from mailroom to board room – to contribute to coming up with sustainable solutions to business problems.
– “Small Actions Big Difference” book excerpt
Rebuilding companies as communities helps promote trust and build a culture that is connected to celebrating the new way of doing business. Creating an enduring company culture of tolerance, collaboration and encouragement around sustainability helps employees take pride in their accomplishments and allows them to claim ownership of their job. Communicating this evidence-based progress internally serves as a reminder and motivation of the company’s purpose in practice.
– Use the 3 C’s to entrench ownership: Co-create, celebrate and communicate
– Design an internal communication channel that celebrates wins and failures
– Shift to the new paradigm of partnership and collaboration that showcases to employees that it’s “not just about us.”
“Leadership is not just driving a company, it’s about making it do the right thing. It’s really about helping transform an entire markets and behaviors beyond those your own company is engaged in to the benefit of all” – Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever
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This fortnightly knowledge byte series is an effort to rekindle courage to take action, share experience, insights, and innovation available across the globe to give us courage and accelerate change. For we can be the generation that passes on a future of hope, abundance and tranquillity to our children if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are courageous enough to be it!