7 Key steps: Build a robust sustainability initiative

Businesses are under pressure on their path to sustainability. Navigating the space can be challenging. Green economy, circular economy, sustainability – what does it mean for your business? We’ve made a list of the Top 7 must-haves when implementing your sustainability initiative.

1. Why are you doing this – be clear on the purpose

Why are you implementing this sustainability initiative? What is the desired outcome and what benefit will it have both for your organisation and the marketplace you operate in? Clarifying and keeping sight of the why helps in a challenging implementation round, ensuring buy-in within your organisation. When the goals are clear, it’s much easier for others to get on board.

2. What are your priority indicators

Measure, measure, measure! Understand what indicators are most important for your organisation. A simple way of determining priority is with a materiality matrix:

  • Determine the importance of issue/topic
  • Determine the risk of issue/topic
  • Combine issues of importance and risk to determine priority

3. Select appropriate measures

You need relevant and robust data to make key decisions that impact your business and develop strategy. This is the how in measuring performance of an indicator, down to critical success factors. Measures need to be valid and credible to stakeholders. This goes down to the selection of metrics. Using a considered approach allows for effective benchmarking. 

4. When data becomes information

In the age of information, there is no place to hide. Visual data storytelling allows agile, better decision-making which leads to enhanced customer retention. It’s not just about data collection, but the right data, lending itself to strategic interventions and benchmarking. It provides not only insight but credibility in the marketplace.

5. Reporting

Reporting can help identify risk and opportunity. It typically involves an analysis of historical trends, understanding the impacts of your newly implemented initiative and reviewing performance against targets. Two major factors that ensure robust, meaningful reporting:

  • Data visualisation for effective storytelling
  • Deciding on report target audience and what is critical for them to know

6. Communication with stakeholders

Effective communication moves beyond singular reporting, including multi-faceted communication to stakeholders and customers. It can be executed via case studies that showcase your role in major industry initiatives and done well, showcases leadership in your sector.

7. Continuous improvement

It’s not done until you evaluate. How has the initiative developed over time? Have you achieved all targets? What lessons have been learned? These are key questions evaluating whether the initiative still meets your needs and that of your industry. A continuous improvement approach ensures continued high impact benefit for your organisation.

Green businesses have a competitive advantage – invest in sustainability,  invest in the future of your business. 

This article was previously published on LinkedIn.

About the author

Sustainability Expert Dr Rajput

Dr Jaisheila Rajput is Founder & CEO of TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now. She strongly advocates the use of green economy business models and actively supports organisations looking to rapidly innovate their business.

Jaisheila holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town.