What is Business Sustainability – Really?

Many people and businesses think sustainability is about green initiatives and saving the environment. That is just one very small component of what business sustainability really is.

A more well rounded definition would be:

Sustainability is an increase in productivity and/or reduction in consumed resources without compromising product or service quality, company competitiveness, or a company’s profitability while helping to protect the environment for the future.

The Institute for Sustainability, a division of Resources Associates Corporation, helps small and mid-sized companies understand, incorporate, and implement business sustainability into their strategic plans. Many large companies have already started initiatives that have proven to be profitable while having a positive environmental impact.

RAC is excited to announce that on April 19, 2012 during our second professional conference of the year, Scot Case, an internationally recognized expert in sustainable business strategy development, will be sharing his expertise and recent experience helping organizations achieve profitable results while having a positive environmental impact. (Scot’s complete bio can be accessed with the link below)

During a recent speech at the Berks County Conservancy, Scot was quoted as saying: “People (companies) thought that sustainability was some kind of tree-hugging, hippie freak show, but what people (companies) have begun figuring out is that sustainability is actually a huge business strategy.”

Another reason RAC is so excited about Scot’s presentation is that we share a similar business philosophy. In addition to a company having a well defined strategic plan and vision, companies also need to incorporate five key questions into their strategic management system.

  1. To succeed financially, how should we appear to our stakeholders?
  2. To satisfy our stakeholders and customers, what business processes must we use?
  3. To achieve our vision, how will we sustain our ability to change and improve (creating
    innovation)?
  4. To achieve our vision, how should we appear to our customers (creating loyal customers)?
  5. To satisfy our stakeholders and customers, what must we do to address environmental
    concerns?

Successful companies know that focusing on profitability, strong business processes, innovation, and loyal customers in addition to their impact on the environment is what builds sustainable businesses. We thank Scot in advance for his contribution to the success of our April event.

scot case sustainabilityAbout Scot Case

Scot Case is an internationally recognized expert with more than 18 years of professional experience in sustainable business strategy development, responsible purchasing, green supply chains, and environmental marketing. As Director of Markets Development for UL Environment and Vice President of TerraChoice, Scot helps connect retailers and consumers seeking environmentally and socially responsible products with the manufacturers supplying them.

Scot has testified before the U.S. Congress on green marketing issues and has consulted with a variety of organizations around the world including the White House Office of the Federal Environmental Executive; Walmart and its suppliers; the World Bank; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Japanese Green Purchasing Network; government agencies in the Philippines, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Australia; the National Institute of Governmental Purchasers; National Association of State Purchasing Officials; and dozens of U.S. Federal agencies and state and local governments.

He has published more than four dozen articles, case studies, and book chapters. As a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he wrote an extensive series of reports documenting the growing environmental purchasing movement. Scot was a key contributor to the Sins of Greenwashing studies, which continue to receive considerable media attention including interviews with him on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, TIME, Newsweek, Business Week, and many others. He was also featured in a recent Emmy-award winning documentary on green purchasing.

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Leadership and Sustainability

How would you define the difference between leadership and management? Our thought is leadership should be focused on the future, innovation, where the organization is headed, as well as determining what are the right things for the organization to do. Management’s role is to do the right things now.

Senior leadership’s commitment to a strategy of sustainability is the only way it will work. Commitment and measured action from the top of the organization is what ultimately creates organizational strength and alignment.

New strategies and initiatives require change and positive change requires the senior leadership team to create and provide a clear vision of where this change will take the organization and how a strategy of sustainability would benefit the organization, the employees, and their customers. Commitment and ongoing follow up on behalf of the senior leadership team is critical. No new strategy can survive, let alone thrive, if leadership is not fully on board. We believe and agree with a statement made by the former CEO of Hanover Insurance, the late William O’Brien, “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the interventor. What counts is not only what leaders do and how they do it, but that interior condition, the inner place from which they operate.”

To assist the senior leadership of organizations in the early stages of creating a sustainability strategy, there are some important questions that can help you get started.

  • What does sustainability mean for your organization and does it make sense for your organization at this time?
  • How does sustainability relate and interrelate to your current strategy and other initiatives?
  • What is your business case for pursuing sustainability?
  • Therefore, should your company pursue sustainability?

Another helpful tool is for senior leadership to conduct a sustainability readiness assessment to collect data from management and employees as another resource to clearly see where the organization stands on sustainability issues. Providing your employees and management the opportunity to give senior leadership an anonymous way to share their thoughts on where the company stands on sustainability issues is incredibly informative and invaluable. The assessment provides a data driven starting point and will give the leadership team the information necessary to better answer the four questions listed above. You may also learn that your organization is doing more than you think as it relates to recycling, waste, etc., which is a great starting point. If the data and the business case support the decision to move forward with a sustainability strategy then the education, communication, and planning process begin. Feel free to experience a mini sustainability assessment by visiting our website.

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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A Case Study for Sustainability

Berea College located in Berea Kentucky, founded in 1855, employs 485 people. Berea is one of seven work colleges in the national Work Colleges Consortium.

The college focuses on providing a strong academic program as well as a holistic approach to social and environmental issues. Berea is unique in that it charges no tuition and admits only academically promising students primarily from the Appalachia area who have limited resources. Every student works 10-15 hours per week in more than 100 college offices, departments and programs off campus while carrying a full academic schedule. The eighth and current President, Dr. Larry Shinn, strongly believes “sustainability is one of the very best tools low-income students can use to succeed, whether they return to a small Appalachian town, or like some of our graduates, go on to Wall Street. Our philosophical framework is built around educating ourselves and our students on sustainable living.”

Below are some of their initiatives:

  • Renovated historical buildings and residence halls to include sustainable features they have been retro-fitted often using recycled materials.
  • 1,200 of their 8,200 acres of land and forest are used to grow local foods and provide instruction in the agriculture and natural resource curriculum.
  • Developed the first ecological village in Kentucky designed to consume less than 75% of energy and water compared to conventional housing.
  • Built a central plant to LEED standards reducing the ecological footprint of the college by reducing energy consumption, which is a major factor in their goal of 45% less energy usage by 2015.

Due to these initiatives and the college’s long-term commitment to sustainability, Berea College used 52% less BTU’s of natural gas in 2009 over its 1999 usages and provides 15% of its cafeteria food from its own farm and local producers.

What are the best and next steps for your organization on the journey of sustainability?

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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Sustainability: The Competitive Advantage

Unless forced by regulation many small to mid-sized organizations may only consider the adoption of a sustainability strategy based on documented financial value. Often leadership considers the principle objective of the organization to be profitability, and they see new or stricter environmental regulations and/or higher demands from customers and stakeholder about sustainable products and services as profit inhibitors.

Business history has proven that change always provides new opportunities. Yet, organizations of all sizes can still be closed minded to change and new ways of thinking. Defining what new opportunities an organization can generate from a strategy of sustainability is a trade up not a trade off. It has been documented in many studies that an integrated strategy of sustainability can lead to measurable results and financial benefit.

Depending on your organization the opportunities for enhanced business can be dramatic. A recent study by Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Hitachi Foundation (published in 2010) verified several business opportunities generated by sustainability initiatives. This research to provides a comprehensive view of small, medium, and large sized U.S. businesses.

The State of Corporate Citizenship in the United States 2009, surveyed 756 executives. 36% of the sample represented small companies (1-99 employees), 24% represented medium companies (100-999 employees), and 40% represented large companies (1000+ employees).

  • 72% of the companies surveyed are reducing costs through improved materials efficiency
  • 58% are manufacturing or sourcing domestically/locally
  • 53% are increasing brand awareness as “green” or socially responsible
  • 52% are designing and offering sustainable products/services
  • 50% are providing customers with more information about products’/services’ social and environmental impacts
  • 48% are offering more energy efficient products/services
  • 46% are providing frontline employees with business training to broaden and improve commercial awareness
  • 22% are using sustainability as a market differentiator

Every outcome listed above has a direct and positive impact on a company’s bottom line. When done properly, sustainability creates both a financial and competitive advantage.

The facts are simple—sustainability through environmental excellence is here to stay. It will remain a mega trend for an undefined period time as it morphs into the fabric of what businesses do every day. Your organization or industry may not be charged with regulations but it would be naïve to believe it is not possible. If your industry is lucky enough to remain unregulated, it is almost guaranteed that your customers and stakeholders will require you to change your business practices. Our research shows most companies will be faced with both regulations and customer/stakeholder pressure. William Mulligan, environmental affairs manager at Chevron Corporation, confirms our research. “Over the last decade, we have seen many polls confirming the importance of the environment to Americans. Only an irresponsible company would dismiss this trend as a passing fad or fail to recognize the need to integrate environmental considerations into every aspect of it business. Environmental excellence has to become part of strategic thinking. It is in our best economic interest to do so. In fact, whenever we are forced to change, we often find opportunities.

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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Sustainability Roadmap

In the Harvard Business Review article The Sustainability Imperative, authors David Lubin and Daniel Esty wrote, “Most executives know that how they respond to the challenge of sustainability will profoundly affect the competitiveness and perhaps the survival of their organizations. Yet most are flailing around, launching a hodgepodge of initiatives without any overreaching vision or plan. That’s not because they don’t see sustainability as a strategic issue. Rather, its because they think they’re facing an unprecedented journey for which there is no road map.”

We help you see how to create a road map for sustainability in your organization and how it does not have to be difficult. In fact, when all the critical areas of your organization are aligned with the right plan, it can be quite profitable and easy to implement. When your people and processes are aligned with an added commitment to the environment, great things can happen!

Sustainability is a megatrend—a fundamental shift in the competitive landscape that creates inescapable game changing opportunities and profoundly affects companies’ competitiveness and even their own survival. Megatrends require businesses to adapt and innovate or be swept aside. Why do we think sustainability qualifies as an emerging megatrend? Because, over the past ten years the following areas have been fueling the megatrend of sustainability.

  • Steadily encroaching environment issues
  • Capacity to create value for customers, shareholders, and stakeholders
  • Globalized workforces
  • Business liabilities due to supply chains
  • Competition for natural resources
  • Investor pressure
  • Public and governmental concern

Sustainability as a megatrend is really not all that different than the quality megatrend of the 70’s and 80’s and the information technology revolution of the 90’s. The quality revolution was focused on quality output quickly, and the IT movement was about technology breakthroughs that fundamentally altered business capabilities and refined how companies do much of what they do. Both of these megatrends changed the face of business permanently.

Sustainability allows you to be profitable today and tomorrow (creating a sustainable company that is in business 10, 15, 25 years from now) without destroying the resources necessary for tomorrow’s prosperity. Creating stakeholder value without draining natural resources doesn’t just sound nice, it makes good economic sense. However, sustainability is an attitude and a culture, not a checklist. Sustainability is about creating enduring environmental and business value, today!

We do know one thing for sure, sustainability is not going away. “Sustainability is no longer optional. Companies that fail to adopt such practices will perish. They will not only lose cost basis, they will also suffer in recruiting employees as well as attracting customers.” – John Replogle, former President and CEO of Burt’s Bees.

The key success components to embracing and managing sustainability lie in the ability to create a business case for sustainability and a plan that fits the uniqueness of each organization. There is no overarching definition for sustainability that will apply to every organization and industry. In fact, it is our experience that there never can be one overarching definition. The business case for sustainability will and should mean different things to different companies.

Why create a business case for sustainability? Studies have shown the results are impactful:

  • A stronger brand and greater pricing power
  • Greater operational efficiencies
  • More efficient use of resources
  • Supply chain optimization
  • Risk management (environmental)
  • Enhanced ability to enter new markets
  • Enhanced ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Inevitability of regulation and reporting

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227

 

 

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Sustainability Makes Sense for Small Business

Market changes and economic challenges can greatly impact small business as well as create constraints that typically do not impact larger companies. So with today’s challenges creating a strategy of business sustainability is more important than ever before.

Committing to a strategy of sustainability includes a commitment to developing and growing your employees, making sure your business processes are sound, and your business is environmentally sustainable. And when all these components are in alignment, businesses report seeing some of the best results in their organization’s history.

Creating a sustainable business does not have to be difficult or require huge resources. Building a sustainable business is a process that can have huge benefits each step of the way. The two most common questions we hear from companies are:

  • What does sustainability really mean?
  • More specifically, what does sustainability mean to our company?

As with most things in business, sustainability is a process. A process, when taken step by step will not feel overwhelming and will provide results sooner as opposed to later. Sustainability in concept means the same thing to every company, but in implementation can and should be quite different. So where does an organization start?

The first step in the process is to define what sustainability means to your organization. As with any strategic initiative the overall objectives need to be defined to create purpose and guide rails for the journey.

The next step is to create a sustainability framework. A framework will help the organization take the overall objectives and get very specific about the desired reasons and outcomes. A framework will help identify how the initiative, will be structured inside the organization, and help identify task forces and cohesive teams for implementation of the plan.

The third step in the process is to identify an organization’s unique business case. How will the company benefit when this strategy is implemented? What specific projects and results will be generated based on your organizations definition of sustainability? This is the step where the rubber really meets the road. In this step an organization can clearly see how implementing a strategy of sustainability is time and effort well spent because this step identifies the ROI.

The next steps of the process really look at three things: assessment, culture, and implementation. After an organization makes the commitment to a journey of sustainability, they need to assess where they really stand. What are they doing well now and what needs to be improved? Most often the employees or contributors of an organization know the answers to those questions better than anyone. Senior leadership just needs to take the time to ask.

Business sustainability is a project that is never finished, as what you accomplish today will propel your organization successfully into the future. But the future only holds new questions. Creating a company culture of sustainability will go a long way to being prepared and ready to answer those future questions and potential challenges. Invest in your employees and the culture of your organization, as the culture you create today will drive your future success.

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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Be a Sustainable Organization Through Customer Loyalty

Significant changes in customer retention rates have resulted in extraordinary improvements in profitability. One survey found that a 5% increase in customer retention consistently resulted in a 25% to 100% increase in profits. These almost unbelievable results would suggest that there must be a powerful force, (your emotional connection to your customer) which needs to be understood and effectively managed.

Creating a sustainable business model that focuses on loyalty would then suggest a linkage between all elements of a business system: your employees, customers, and stakeholders and the generation of profits. Providing customer value begins with a management philosophy that supports the cultivation of strong customer relationships and is implemented by having properly trained and motivated employees who know how to deliver value. Research has shown that customers who have an emotional connection and feel valued will repeatedly come back and do business with your organization as well as provide a strong referral base for new customers. Loyal customers repeatedly purchasing your product or service are what generate sustainable business growth and profit. However, your practices and processes that generate loyal customer relationships must be in place before you will begin to see a profitable impact. This model does not work in reverse, although by their actions many organizations appear to think the reverse is possible.

Building a sustainable business initiates a series of steps that will cascade through an organization as follows:

  1. Revenues and market share grow as your best customers (loyal customers) build repeat purchases and recommend you to others who also become loyal.
  2. Employee retention increases due to job pride and satisfaction, which in turn creates a loop that reinforces customer retention through familiarity and better service to the customers. Customers like doing business with people they know and your employees want to do the right things because it makes their job easier and far less stressful.
  3. As costs go down and revenues go up, profits increase. Improved profits provide resources to invest in employee development and compensation (further increasing retention), and in new features and products that enhance customer value. Profits are important not just as an end in themselves. They also allow the organization to improve value and provide additional incentive and reasons for employees, customers, and investors to remain loyal to your organization.
  4. Costs begin to shrink as the expense of acquiring and serving new customers and replacing old customers declines.

This model effectively provides insight to success versus failure in any organization. It is clear that the companies or organizations with the highest retention rates (retention of loyal customers) also earn the highest profits and maintain viability. As mentioned earlier, loyal customers reduce cost. In one study, it was found that in most service organizations word of mouth advertising accounted for one-third to one-half of all new customers. Relative customer retention also explains bottom line implications better than market share, scale, cost position, or any variables usually associated with a competitive advantage and business sustainability.

So what can you do differently for your business? Perhaps a good place to start would be to find better ways to create and sustain a loyal customer base. While there will be an investment, the advantages will be enormous for your customers, employees, and investors. Strictly from a financial perspective, the revenues increased from improved service tend to be 10 to 20 times the costs associated with fixing the problem. What strategies of sustainability do you need to implement today?

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in helping businesses achieve high levels of excellence and success by adopting customer loyalty strategies as a critical success factor of organizational success. Learn how at www.resourceassociatescorp.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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Balancing Your Business

Business leaders are currently balancing four different business contexts:

  • The world as they knew it before the downturn.
  • The downturn itself.
  • The world in front of them as they look for new growth and opportunities for innovation.
  • What will the next decade bring as far as additional change and opportunity.

Some organizations are literally stuck wishing business would return to the world they knew before the downturn. Fortunately or unfortunately, that will not be happening, and companies that are stuck on that hamster wheel may not be companies for long.

However, many organizations realized that in order to make it through the downturn, they needed to manage cost focus on smart cost cutting strategies as well as keep a keen focus on how they would keep customers. While many organizations have developed strategies to successfully manage their basic business and manage their cost structure, many are also looking at the business world in front of them and questioning what growth opportunities and innovations will present themselves if they keep it top of mind. What new products or services could be developed? We will still be operating in a somewhat constrained world but there is no doubt things are starting to move in a more positive direction.

Finally, there are other companies managing their basic business, keeping growth and innovation top of mind, as well as looking forward to the next decade. They are also asking the additional question—what opportunities will industry change and restructure bring to our business? Companies that think forward plan to grow and prosper no matter what may happen in the next ten years.

Building a truly sustainable business is more about creating a plan for what your business will look like in three, five or ten years as well as creating and committing to a process of constant evaluation of trends and monitoring change in the world around you. Many businesses leaders, when they put their nose to the grindstone, know how to manage through the muck and mire of an economic downturn, and strategically manage their costs and focus on their customers. A truly sustainable company has the leadership, structure, and decision making process in place to know how to get through today, tomorrow, next quarter and next year in order to be a viable and sustainable company three, five, or ten years into the future.

There are six key areas of every business that need to be aligned for short-term success and long-term sustainability. Those components include your people, your processes, your leadership, your customers, your commitment to the environment, and profitability. The alignment of these six core components is critical to innovation and to a systems thinking approach. Here is a link to a business sustainability model that gives you a good visual of how the areas can be quite dysfunctional when they are not aligned and how they can produce amazing results when they are aligned. 

Keeping these six areas in alignment is a lifetime commitment for any business. It is never a “one time and done exercise” as outside forces beyond your control can throw any one of these areas out of alignment and quickly destroy organizational balance: economic conditions, regulations, customers’ needs, changes within your supply chain just to name a few. So, the question becomes how will you prepare your company to be successful today as well as create a sustainable organization three, five, and ten years into the future?

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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Initiating a Strategy of Sustainability

Building and growing a financially viable business and committing to environmental issues that are sustainable go hand in hand. Building a sustainable business is often described as:

  • What will your business look like in 25 years?
  • Can you envision that future?
  • What products or services will your company be known for or provide?
  • What will the face of your loyal customer base look like in 25 years?
  • Who will be successfully leading the organization?

Many small to mid-sized organizations are used to planning and thinking about their business two to five years out, but most have never thought about planning for 25 years into the future or creating a financially sustainable business that will be there to effectively serve future customers. A truly sustainable business that supports employees, stakeholders, and customers long-term, thinks far beyond the obvious.

In order to have the ability to think about building a sustainable business we need to start changing our attitude about how we handle and protect environmental resources, so there is something to build on 25 years from now. “We need to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Force – The Brundtland Commission).

There are three key components to creating and building a financially sustainable and environmentally sound organization. There needs to be a strategic commitment and clear vision communicated by senior leadership of the organization. Employees need to understand and believe in the vision in order to develop the attitudes and behaviors necessary to implement the new strategy, and all of the organization’s processes that move horizontally through the organization need to be aligned with the outcomes of the overall strategy.

How do you start? At first blush, the process may seem overwhelming but it really isn’t. There is, in fact, a systematic approach that can help your company move through the five levels. Each creates the next layer of a transformative sustainability model.

Some of the first steps include:

  • Conduct a Sustainability Assessment. It does not make sense to guess or assume where your organization stands in its sustainability initiatives. Conduct a valid assessment and based on the collected data, establish the necessary action steps to help your organization get to the next level.
  • Conduct Stakeholder Research. Take the time to learn what your stakeholders are concerned about, and what they expect today and in the future from your product or service. Give them an opportunity to voice their opinions, ideas and concerns. Your stakeholders are not just your customers. Your vendors, your community, and anyone else your company or products and services touch should also be considered stakeholders.
  • Take your existing strategic plan and work through it to see how a strategy of business/financial and environmental sustainability overlays with your current plan. What changes need to be made? What assumptions need to be challenged and how do your people need to be further engaged? How will you incorporate a systems thinking approach in all of your processes?

Being successful today and being successful five years from now is very different than being a sustainable company in 25 years. Dealing with the critical success factors in the short-term is mandatory. Deciding to plan a sustainable future presents exciting business opportunities!

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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A Vision for Sustainability

Sustainability began with the concept of being ‘green,’ becoming more environmentally friendly, and paying more attention to conserving our planet’s resources. However, sustainability has become much more than that. Sustainability is a viable and proven business strategy, which takes into account economic considerations, governmental issues, as well as demands from customers and stakeholders.

The base definition of sustainability that many of our clients start with as they begin to define and customize their own strategy and action plan is … an increase in productivity and/or reduction of consumed resources without compromising product or service quality, competitiveness, or profitability while helping to protect the planet. The mantra being: People + Process + Environment = Profit.

New strategies and initiatives require change, and positive change requires the leadership team to create and provide a clear vision of where this change will take the organization. This should also address how a strategy of sustainability benefits the organization, the employees, and their customers. Commitment and ongoing follow-up on behalf of the leadership team are critical. No new strategy can survive, let alone thrive, if leadership is not fully on board. We believe and agree with a statement made by the late and former CEO of Hanover Insurance, William O’Brien, “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor. What counts is not only what leaders do and how they do it, but that interior condition, the inner place from which they operate.”

A compelling vision should:

  • Clarify the purpose for the change
  • Describe intent
  • Provide a cultural change
  • Provide a positive image of the future
  • Be felt in hearts and understood in minds
  • Help the employees intellectually and emotionally grasp what the organization is striving to achieve and why it is important

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of compelling sustainability vision statements:

Example 1: We will be a sustainable corporation. We engage our employees in more sustainable practices; we initiate and use processes that are neutral or improve our environment; and we utilize our resources in ways that create adaptable and sustainable workspace solutions for our customers. We do all of this globally to protect and restore our environment, create economic value and support, and strengthen our communities. (Furniture Manufacturer)

Example 2: We will strive to reduce the impact that our internal operations have on the environment through sustainable practices and source reduction initiatives. In addition, we will seek to provide our customers with solutions designed to help them produce products that are inherently more sustainable. (Engineered Film Producer)

Example 3: Imagine a Community College where ongoing operations result in a minimal negative impact on our natural environment. We are actively engaged in creating ways to positively impact our environment. Continuous learning takes place about our impact on the environment, as a college and as individuals. Sustainability is a way of thinking about everything that we do. Every staff member takes personal responsibility for creating and using sustainable practices and principles in our daily work. We integrate sustainability into our relationships and the social fabric of the college. (Community College)

Can you describe the purpose of your sustainability initiative? Can your employees? Can your customers?

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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