Creating your Sustainability Policy
Having your own sustainability policy is becoming more and more important for businesses who are:
- competing for tender and business opportunities,
- engaging with stakeholders, and
- attracting and retaining lead talent.
It is an opportunity to demonstrate your business’ commitment to environmental and social issues and reducing the wider impacts of its operations.
Some additional benefits to developing your policy also includes:
- Helping your business to work within relevant legislation
- Clearly defining environmental roles and expectations within the workforce
- Reducing wastage of resources, and costs, within your operations
- Identifying structures for monitoring and reducing your impact
- Preventing incidents that could result in a liability
- Identifying unique value propositions
- Improvement in stakeholder engagement, business relationships and brand loyalty
Below are some initial steps to consider when creating your own sustainability policy:
- Have buy in from the top down, and the bottom up: Involve board members and employees at all levels. It is important to have insights from across your whole business, and that everyone is involved in leading by example as representatives of your organisation.
- Don’t copy and paste from the web: For your policy to be authentic it should be tailored to your business, and what is material to its operations and its stakeholders. At present there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and so your policy should reflect what seems appropriate, achievable, and relevant to you and your overall business strategy, and goals.
- Keep it clear, concise and relevant: Your policy doesn’t have to read like War and Peace. State your objective and make it simple and clear for the reader to understand, avoiding any unnecessary jargon. This should remove any areas of ambiguity and also help your team understand the organisational expectations.
- Set SMART targets: When you set your goals, make them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound. Try to consider stretching targets, without them being unachievable as this could be demotivating for your staff and your stakeholders if they fall short.
- Pre-existing campaigns and initiatives: Perhaps consider aligning your policy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals or other relevant sustainability campaigns such as Race to Zero, Guardians of Grub, European Week for Waste Reduction or Food Waste Action Week for example.
- Communicate your goals: Once you’ve committed to action, communicate these to your internal and external stakeholders using suitable communications channels such as your website and social media profiles. Ensure that everyone understands your policy, and why it matters to your business so that they can get behind you in your journey.
- Continuous improvement: Once you have developed your policy don’t just leave it there to gather dust. You should continue to measure and monitor progress, allow for ongoing improvements, identify areas that haven’t been so successful, or alternatively, have worked well, and ensure that you keep up to date with all relevant legislation.
Need help to go green?
If you’re interested in working with a business mentor to find out more about integrating sustainable practices into your business, contact the Louise Pollock from the Alchemy team at email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is 1 part of a 4 part series on sustainability in business. To view the other articles, visit Going Green in Business