As 2008 draws to a close, I hope one of your top priorities for the new year is to create a solid sustainability plan for your company. After all, business sustainability plans are not just “feel good” activities anymore. They’re quickly becoming standard practice –and they’re quickly becoming critical to long-term success, as well. Already, investors, customers, and regulators are expecting to see credible progress on issues regarding sustainability, and that’s a trend I predict will only accelerate over the next 12 months.
Here’s a great article to help you get started. In “6 Steps to Sustainability,” authors Marsha Willard and Darcy Hitchcock, both faculty members of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, provide a framework to organize your thoughts and guide your actions. They recommend that you:
• Establish a clear business case for sustainability. “At some point, your executives have to be able to explain why this is worth the time, expense and effort,” say Willard and Hitchcock.
• Develop a sustainability vision that’s based on a known framework, or create a hybrid framework relevant to your company.
• Use an impacts assessment to determine the gap between your current state and your vision.
• Carefully choose a set of metrics, gather baseline data, and begin tracking your progress.
• Identify, prioritize, schedule, and strategize action steps that will move you toward your vision.
• Create support systems to set priorities, monitor progress, and review success (something like the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle that you’re familiar with from other corporate initiatives).
This article is part of “The Sustainable Enterprise Report,” a collection of white papers and case studies recently released by Deloitte and Kyoto Publishing. This report covers a lot of ground on a wide variety of issues, and it definitely deserves a spot at the top of your reading list for the new year.