The Sustainability Roadmap that your organization is pursuing will ideally be planned to gradually grow in outcomes achieved and stakeholders impacted. Over the years, this natural progression should help your enterprise step up on the Sustainability maturity barometer. However, to scale up the impact across all stakeholders and make it long-lasting, one needs to consider a few catalysts in the mix.
In an earlier blog, we had highlighted the best practices to be considered while pursuing your sustainability roadmap. The catalysts that we mention in this blog go in tandem with the pursuit of the Sustainability roadmap. If used effectively, they are sure shot ways to scale up the impact across your internal and external stakeholders.
Employees are key to the success of any enterprise initiative and the Sustainability program is no exception. Whether it is about Sustainability shifts that are core to the daily operations (Ex: Introduction of an Internal Carbon Price) or the ones that are relevant from an individual lifestyle perspective, there is an ample need to drive behavioural change. Cracking the code for this behavioural change is tough but once done, it has the highest catalytic potential among all available options. We propose to take your employees through a simple Learn-Act-Achieve-Celebrate approach. With each stage in this approach, there is a potential to introduce novel engagement techniques and build on it.
These techniques are wide-ranging – Awareness workshops, Skilling sessions, Design Thinking sessions, Gamification, Remuneration Incentives, Communication, Project participation, Rewards and Recognition and more. The idea is to identify the right touchpoints to highlight the significance of Sustainability for the Individual and the Institution.
As these techniques are put to action, the organization will see a gradual shift towards Sustainability culture within the organization. If leveraged right, they will help embed Sustainability into your organization’s DNA. This will further drive collective, cohesive efforts from your employees towards the enterprise’s Sustainability roadmap.
This catalyst banks on your deeper established relationships with your external partners to bring down your emissions footprint. While this primarily has an impact on the Environmental dimension, it could be extended to the Social dimension too. In the context of the value chain, the Environmental dimension is significant and needs due consideration due to a few facts.
FACT 1 – For enterprises in most industries, a significant 60-70% of the GHG footprint they are responsible for comes from the value chain operations.
FACT 2 - No company will ever be able to achieve Net Zero, if it hasn't worked with their Supply Chain partners to address their operational footprint.
FACT 3 - Larger companies have started engaging with their supply chain partners and incentivising them to address end-to-end footprint.
Clearly, scaling up of your sustainability impact can happen through a deeper engagement with your supply chain partners. This has to be approached with thorough due diligence so that is it least disruptive to ongoing operations. It must be acknowledged that most supply chain players are Small and Medium Enterprises. There needs to be sufficient sensitization to the context of the SME supplier, which is significantly different from that of your own. A few approaches that have worked well while engaging the suppliers.
· Generate an incentive mechanism to recognize the efforts of your supply chain partners to reduce their footprint. An example is Project Gigaton by Walmart for their suppliers through which Walmart recognizes star performers as Giga Gurus and Sparking Change suppliers. The aim is to reduce or avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030.
· Educate them about potential incentives and government policies that they could leverage to transition to the green economy. A collation of such incentives has been curated and made available in our whitepaper titled Sustainability Spotlight on SMEs.
· Establish Green Procurement Policy for your enterprise and support your suppliers to meet the criteria outlined in the policy. A detailed study of the Green Procurement Policies of leading companies has been annexed in the Sustainability Spotlight on SMEs whitepaper.
Considering the complexities involved in dealing with the Supply Chain partners, one must attempt this only after avoiding/reducing Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions thoroughly.
While 2 key stakeholders, i.e employees and supplier chain partners, were the focus of the 2 catalytic forces described earlier, this one addresses the broader stakeholder ecosystem – Investors, Consumers, Community, Auditors, Civil Society, Shareholders, Regulators etc. These stakeholders are highly reliant on the communication they have with you to understand your sustainability actions. It is important to acknowledge that they are key to the acceleration of your sustainability initiatives. If they do not see eye to eye with your claim to sustainability, like in the case of Greenwashing, these external stakeholders can also thwart your sustainability agenda.
It is important to keep your stakeholders informed and updated about the latest progress of your sustainability actions. In this day and age, effective communication is no longer optional. If you do not communicate well about yourself, there is a good chance that somebody else will do that for you – unasked and uncontrolled. So, it always helps to keep “communicating right” on the top of your agenda.
The most sought-after communication materials from enterprises, by the external stakeholders, are their management reports, sustainability reports and regulatory submissions. Today’s informed stakeholder looks to see if and how your management summary, financial statements and sustainability disclosures are singing the same tune. This consistency and cohesiveness is key to steer clear of greenwashing, which has become a subject of significant scrutiny. In fact, corporate disclosures are progressing towards Integrated Reporting – the coming together of management reports and sustainability reports. When done right, this reporting helps address all the tangibles and intangibles in a truly holistic manner. The challenge lies in drafting such communications right.
This clarity in communication will go a long way in helping scale up the impact of various sustainability initiatives. It will ensure you have the backing of your stakeholders which is key to gain and maintain momentum, for any long-duration complex engagements. Sustainability roadmaps are no exception.
When leveraged right, these 3 catalysts will ensure you have the right results throughout your sustainability journey through the support of your entire stakeholder mix. With this, you should have all the right answers to the questions as you draft your sustainability reports.