The journey to corporate sustainability is rarely an easy or straightforward process, however, this doesn’t excuse any Australian organisation from doing its best to become sustainable.
To keep the process moving for your business, our team has compiled some tips which most businesses can apply to their context in their own way. Not all businesses can be expected to achieve all of them, however, so we encourage you to pick a few points that feel most attainable for you.
Set Your Goals
First things first: no business can achieve success without first defining what that looks like. If you want to achieve “corporate sustainability” – whatever that means for you – you’ll need to lay out some key performance indicators (KPIs).
As any successful business leader will tell you, these KPIs will become your goalposts and your structure upon which to review a project.
You may want to focus on the environment first, in which case you could aim to reduce your carbon footprint by X amount over a given period.
Or perhaps you’re interested in satisfying the communities in which you operate. To achieve this, you might survey the audience before and after implementing solutions to improve your impact on their community.
Wherever your corporate values and goals lie, we hope the following points allow you to achieve and exceed them.
Improving Your Environmental Impact
When people hear “sustainability,” their first thought is often the environment and it’s likely the reason you arrived at this article. Below are a few tried and tested ways to improve your environmental sustainability as a big business in Australia.
Reduce energy use
Once we have calculated your organisation’s carbon footprint, you may find that there are ways to reduce your energy use and save money at the same time – a win-win!
If you run a number of offices or warehouses, simply replacing old light globes, air conditioners, and computer systems can save more energy than you realise.
If you have more funding available, electric cars or renewable energy become the next step to world-class environmental credentials.
This solution is particularly popular among organisations that don’t quite have the capacity to implement on-site solutions right now. Instead, you can direct your funds towards sustainable projects around the world which earn you carbon credits and offset your power usage. You can choose from projects in wind farming, solar power, regenerative farming, hydropower, and so much more. It all depends on your company’s values and budget.
The answer to more sustainable business practices might be right under your nose. The impact of your suppliers can reflect on your business and it’s important that they align with your goals. If a supplier is still using inefficient vehicles and investing in fossil fuels, there is a definite opportunity to improve your supply chain and show your stakeholders you mean business.
Improving Your Social Impact
Equally important to the ongoing operation of any large organisation is their social responsibility. There are plenty of examples of disgruntled communities threatening the social license of irresponsible businesses, giving the rest of us every reason to do our best. Fortunately, there are plenty of manageable ways to do so:
Meet with landowners
Whether you’ve built an enormous warehouse or a public walking trail, you’ll want to gauge the reaction of the community before, during and after construction. Of course, this is possible through public consultation periods and video calls, but nothing is more appreciated than an in-person meeting. In consultation with WolfPeak, your company can take the most responsible steps to appease local stakeholders. This will ensure your project can continue unphased and locals can maintain a positive perception of your business.
Donate to charity
Not every business is in a financial position to get philanthropic, but for those who are, it can be a very green flag for stakeholders, staff, and the general public. This is a great way to signal your values in a generous and transparent way. Whether you value the environment, accessible housing, feeding the poor, protecting victims of violence, or some other noble cause, there is sure to be a charity that aligns with your business.
Adopt a code of ethics
Many businesses will be glad to see this on our list because they’ll already have a code of ethics in place. For those who haven’t, adopting a code of ethics is an important piece of corporate sustainability. This ensures that every level of the business is aligned and understands what the business values.
Get suppliers on board
Or find ones that will! Not every supplier will align perfectly with your business’s vision – they’ve got their own brand to uphold. But if you’ve got one on your books that holds some serious red flags, it may be time to reevaluate your partnerships. Your current suppliers may be cheaper and faster, but if they’re supporting a cause that threatens your brand reputation, are they truly worth the benefits?
Improving Your Corporate Governance
The G in ESG isn’t usually our kettle of fish. We may help governments to manage critical projects – guiding the compilation of their teams and systems – but we don’t often tinker with the governance of our clients. Nevertheless, we’re always happy to offer our advice while you’re here!
A balanced board
The equality and diversity of a governing board is paramount to the business’s responsible operation. If there are too many voices of a particular disposition or demographic, then the business may ignore or remain ignorant of better options.
Both good and bad results should be made accessible to stakeholders, customers, and the general public. This helps to build trust with such parties as they understand exactly where a business stands. More importantly, the business should explain how they’re working to improve on their flaws. In an environmental context, this could mean publishing a carbon footprint and emissions reduction plans.
Prioritise the long-term
Too often, businesses put short-term gain ahead of long-term sustainability. For example, they may invest in cheaper fossil fuels over renewable energy; rely on cheaper legacy systems over newer, more efficient ones; and ignore the views of graduate staff in favour of older, long-standing ones. All these examples can lead to a burnt-out business with no effective way forward into an unpredictable future.
Consider this your sign to take corporate sustainability seriously and start taking steps to improve your business. As we’ve outlined, there are so many ways to do so depending on your values and priorities. If you need more guidance, get in touch with us and we’ll walk you through each and every step.