Five important environmental decisions made by companies
In my 7+ years in the environmental industry I have worked with dozens of companies, many at very different places in their sustainability journey. During my time working with those companies I’ve noticed that there are similarities between the companies that are successful in implementing environmental tools, policies and a way of thinking. I’ve listed five of the most impactful decisions, in my opinion, that successful companies have all made.
They have a dedicated project manager
This may come as no surprise. It is very difficult to implement changes, set goals and achieve them without someone that is responsible for the whole shebang.
A few years ago, the trend was to add this responsibility to a current employees job description. That person usually had other responsibilities as well, such as Quality management, HR, CFO or anything in between. Clearly, this was not ideal as the attention of said employee was divided between too many focus areas. In recent years I’ve noticed a shift towards hiring sustainability and environmental managers who’s sole responsibility is to monitor and act on environmental issues. The result is, predictably, an increased focus on environmental issues.
They have set up an environmental group
In terms of trying to implement real change, one is truly the loneliest number. Therefore, some companies have gone even further and established a formal - or informal - environmental- and sustainability group. This group, which often consists of 4-6 people, is led by a dedicated project manager and is responsible for goal setting, creating and modifying policies, implementing strategies and creating sustainability reports. Pro tip: try to include team members from different departments and make them responsible for implementation within their departments.
They have clear, measurable goals
The companies that have had the most success in decreasing their environmental footprint have a set of clearly defined and measurable goals. Set a goal that makes sense for the employees, avoid vague, indecisive wording such as “We aim to…” as this signals that you are not confident that you will reach your goal prefer to have an out. Adjust the goals if you feel like you need to but try to explain why you are making adjustments.
They constantly monitor their progress and make adjustment
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. This phrase has been tossed around so much that it has long since become a cliché. However, the frequency of measuring also matters. Letting a year pass between measuring progress towards goals only to find out that the actions taken to reach it did not deliver the desired results, means that you have wasted a year. Make sure your project manager and environmental group constantly keep their eye on the ball and make adjustments to your strategy and actions if they are not delivering the desired results.
They make sustainability a central part of their business model
“Don’t dream it, be it” sang a wise, albeit slightly evil, alien in a great movie. My advise: Make sustainability a part of your business model. Don’t half-ass it. You need buy in on all levels if you want your sustainability journey to lead to real results.