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Sustainable Business Practices

How to introduce sustainable business practices in your organization

Sustainability involves considering environmental sustainability in all aspects of an organization’s operations. It also involves considering social sustainability and how an organization’s actions might affect the local community and people in general. Also known as environmental and social responsibility, considering sustainability of every business decision and activity may not be possible or feasible for some companies. At the same time, there are several ways to introduce sustainable business practices in your company or organization.

The Benefits of Being Sustainable

One of the main reasons to adopt sustainable business practices is the advantage it can give an organization. In many cases, sustainable practices lead to greater efficiency. This in turn can help reduce operating costs. Sustainable practices also attract and retain employees that want to work for an organization that encourages and embraces sustainable practices. They also attract new clients, customers, investors and other partners looking for environmentally and socially responsible organizations. In turn, being sustainable might encourage your partners, suppliers, clients and customers to also be more environmentally and socially responsible.

Ways to Make Operational Changes

An organization can become more environmentally and socially sustainable or responsible through operational changes. Part of this involves being a ‘good’ employer. This means being committed to your employees and how they feel about working for your organization. A good employer cares about how satisfied employees as well as their development and well-being. This might involve encouraging good work-life balance with, for example, flexible work arrangements and on-site fitness centres and childcare. It also involves promoting equality and fairness where there is no tolerance for workplace discrimination and harassment. Promoting a healthy and safe work environment for employees is a vital part of being a socially sustainable organization as well as a good employer.

Being environmentally responsible in your day-to-day operations is another way of being sustainable. This means operating in an environmentally efficient way and using eco-friendly practices when delivering services or developing and producing products. Organizations can, for example, use renewable and environmentally-friendly materials to manufacture products or provide services. Every aspect of a service’s or product’s lifecycle should be considered to minimize waste and use environmentally sustainable practices and materials. An organization can also incorporate energy efficient building designs when developing new offices, warehouses or other properties. They can also upgrade existing buildings with environmentally friendly components such as solar power to provide electricity and heating, energy-efficient lighting, or smart technology for heating and lighting systems.

Operations can also become more sustainable by working more with the local community and others. Being a better neighbor might involve using green technology and practices that reduces pollution in the community. An organization can also promote better and stronger communities by providing employment or training opportunities for local residents. They might also consider sourcing materials locally to minimise pollution created from transporting goods. Finally, an organization can play a role in encouraging others to be more sustainable. This involves engaging and encouraging suppliers, clients, customers and employees to make changes to how they live or do business that will increase sustainability. For example, a company can make it easier for customers to go green with electronic billing or free product recycling. An organization can also introduce policies that encourage procurement from suppliers that also embrace environmentally and socially sustainable practices.

Ways to Make Strategic Changes

Another way an organization can be sustainable is through strategic changes. These changes might include promoting innovation within the organization. For example, rewarding employees that develop sustainable products and services or providing funding to business units developing these products and services. Being strategic when it comes to sustainability also includes long-term planning. This involves considering long-term implications of every decision made by the organization. To do this, every member of the organization needs to be trained in order to know how to take into account these considerations, whether decisions are made in a manager’s office or a board meeting. This will allow everyone to adopt a sustainability lens in every action taken and decision made.

In order to be able to be innovative and consider long-term implications, sustainability needs to be integrated into every aspect of the organization. For sustainability to be part of every activity, it must be embraced as a business priority and be considered in all decision making. Hiring sustainability manager or appointing a sustainability champion will help with the management of an organization’s sustainability policy or approach. This person can also lead and monitor the implementation of sustainable changes, both strategic and operational. Being transparent and accountable for sustainability performance will also assist an organization as it embraces sustainable changes. This might involve having an annual report highlighting progress and successes as well as ongoing gaps. It might also involve introducing a working group with employee and management representation tasked with monitoring the organization’s efforts.

Developing a Policy that Works

When introducing sustainable business practices in your organization, it is important to get buy-in. Management and employees need to see the benefits of going green and embracing eco-friendly practices. Change is difficult, and finding creative ways of making it easier to adopt sustainable practices will play a big part in making your efforts successful. Engage employees and management to understand where changes are feasible, and continue engagement to promote a mutual understanding of your sustainability policy and objectives. It is also important to monitor implementation to assess how they are or are not being successful.



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