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Freeman Cebu Business

Sustainability – we need a Strategy

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry Schumacher - The Freeman

The news is full of pressures on nations, governments, and businesses to do their part and reduce their impact on people and the planet. Stakeholders are expecting profits to come from creating shared value—balancing financial gain with corporate responsibility.

Whether we like it or not, I believe we have to make sustainability a top business priority. The dramatic growth in legislation coupled with expansive consumer awareness is driving the urgency to act. Ignoring environmental, climate or social issues threatens brand reputation. As business leaders, we must watch what our competitors are planning to do to address the sustainability issue.

Let’s look at FIVE STEPS TO PLAN THE SUSTAINABLE STRATEGY:

1: Engage 

Build a strong business case. A convincing proposal will focus on the connection between sustainability initiatives and business benefits, value creation and risk mitigation. Your business case should outline a target audience, a detailed competitive analysis, and any go-to-market implications.

2: Prioritize 

Map risks and opportunities across your top markets. Then, focus your efforts and set targets.

Your purpose-driven plans need to be unique to the markets where you source, manufacture and sell your products. A truly transformational approach considers country-specific needs, dynamics, and legislation as well as direct and indirect activities across your supply chain.

3: Collaborate 

Successful execution requires seamless collaboration within and beyond your company. A dedicated team or committee can help drive and activate your strategy. But you and your executive leaders should also strive to remove organizational silos. Align each department’s priorities with sustainable business objectives for effective implementation.

4: Report 

Track your targets and report on progress.

There is no point in setting goals if you never know whether you achieve them or not. Remember: only what gets measured, gets managed.

CSR and Sustainability Reports are the two most common methods for recording performance. Many companies are now publishing environmental, social and governance reports, following regulatory and investor pressure.

5: Communicate

Share your sustainability initiatives with all stakeholders to get the message out effectively.

Product labels and packaging are often where companies advertise their efforts. But the proliferation of sustainable product claims brought ‘greenwashing’ into question. And governments are scrutinizing such claims for misinformation.

One way to increase credibility is using trustworthy third-party certifications, especially those that are widely recognized and understood by consumers. Backing up these claims with evidence and facts is essential to protect your brand against ‘greenwashing’ accusations.

As transparency builds trust and credibility, brands should disclose their performance and earnings both internally and externally.

And finally, become the next sustainability leader:

Sustainability is here to stay. But the issues and priorities that your strategy is built around should reflect current dynamics. Evaluate your progress on a quarterly basis and adjust tactics along the way.

Brands that view social, economic, or environmental issues as opportunities—and take steps to effect positive change—will be set up for success. To maintain sustainable growth, businesses need a clearly articulated, purpose-driven strategy that demonstrates how value is created or protected.

Communication and transparency are more important than ever before. Buzzwords, broad claims, and general statements around responsible business development won’t position your brand as sustainable. But a robust strategy with specific objectives, targets, activations, and commitments will help you become one.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to become the next sustainability leader; feedback will be appreciated; please contact me at [email protected]

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