Communicating Sustainable Practices
Demonstrating a Commitment to Sustainability
Each year, we celebrate World Environment Day on June 5. While this event is the United Nations’ day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment, it’s important for sustainability to be a year-round focus for organizations. In the last 10 years, there has been an increased focus on the benefits of corporate sustainability and the strategies businesses are putting in place to improve environmental responsibility.
But corporate sustainability is about more than the health of the planet. True corporate sustainability creates long-term stakeholder value through the implementation of a business strategy that positively impacts the ethical, social, economic and environmental dimensions of a business. While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to implementing a sustainability strategy, it’s important that businesses effectively communicate the steps they’re taking to achieve their sustainability goals.
Tips for Communicating Environmental Sustainability
Corporate sustainability is necessary for creating impactful change in our local communities around the world. Efforts can focus on combatting deforestation to clearing plastic pollution from the ocean to reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Whichever cause or causes your organization supports, it’s an opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact, encourage your employees and the public to join your cause and to position your brand in a positive light.
Consider the following best practices for communicating your organization’s commitment to the planet:
Develop and publish a sustainability plan
Going public with your sustainability plans shows that your company is truly dedicated to setting and achieving goals. Whether you’re committed to reducing energy consumption or water usage, you should publish your goals on your website so that you have accountability. Some companies dedicate a section of their annual corporate social responsibility report to discuss specific environmental efforts while others have a separate area of their website for communicating their mission and progress. Make your goals specific, like cutting carbon emissions by 25% within five years or committing to sponsor five philanthropic events per year for a like-minded sustainability nonprofit organization. Specific and measurable goals demonstrates your intent to make a difference.
Be transparent about your environmental impact
Many consumers research companies before investing in products, services and causes. Having an “open door policy” in the way you communicate about sustainability with all key stakeholders is critical. For example, Google and Microsoft submit environmental data through GRI Standards, which are the first global standards for sustainability reporting. Additionally, Apple and Microsoft issue report cards for select products. Make information about your environmental efforts readily available on your website so that consumers can always access and review it. You can also harness the power of social media to communicate your commitment to sustainability and update followers on milestones and important updates.
Offer best practices to employees
Your sustainability efforts can have an even greater impact if you show employees how they can contribute to your initiatives. Offer simple best practices that employees can perform at home and in the workplace. Examples include: planting trees and flowers that support bee colonies, shopping locally, avoiding single-use plastics and printing fewer documents. Distribute this information via company e-newsletters, monitors in lobbies and cafeterias and via intranets. Additionally, create opportunities for employees to come together to act on these recommendations. Some organizations organize roadside and beach clean-up days during which workers collect trash to that can negatively impact animals and their habitats.
Follow through on sustainability plans
Businesses must realize that environmental stewardship requires continuous effort and clear action, and more than just claims. “Greenwashing” has become more widespread over the years. This is the practice of conveying that your brand or product is good for the environment, when in reality, it is not moving the needle on environmental sustainability. This practice has made it increasingly difficult for consumers to trust that companies are communicating truthfully. It’s important to not only communicate the specific steps you’re taking to be greener, but to also follow through with them.
Sustainability is Here to Stay
Sustainability is not a passing fad. It’s here to stay and brands need to take a stand in support of the planet. Your commitment to sustainability needs to be embedded into every level of your business in order to be successful. The main motivation behind making positive strides for the environment should not be to position your company in a better light. However, it is important for organizations to share with stakeholders how they are making a difference. Continue to communicate both internally and externally the steps that your company is taking to achieve its sustainability goals. By following the above tips, you can effectively showcase how your business is limiting its environmental impact, which not only has a positive impact on the planet but drives your business to be better.
Don’t let sustainability be an afterthought for your B2B brand. Reach out to Mulberry to learn how to communicate sustainability initiatives to build stronger relationships with customers and convert leads.
Jessie Koerner is a Senior Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She has a deep passion for media relations and content creation.