Fostering A Culture of Sustainability In Your Organization

March 2, 2022

Natalie Yelton

The global pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on society’s inequalities worldwide. At the same time, floods, wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures keep the urgency of the climate crisis firmly at the front of our minds.

Last year, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues took center stage within business, government, and many other collectives. Countries with net-zero targets now represent:

Source: Net Zero Climate

At November’s United Nations climate summit, $130 trillion of assets were committed to this goal.

It is becoming even more vital for companies to address and close the gap between the “knowing” and the “doing” through embracing sustainable business practices. Sustainability within your firm can be defined as providing for today’s needs without compromising the needs of the future generations to meet theirs. It has three pillars: 

  • economic 
  • environmental
  • social

The benefits of corporate sustainability management speak for themselves. In this article, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management experts at SINAI weigh in on what a culture of sustainability looks like while providing a step-by-step guide to help firms foster a meaningful culture of sustainability within their organization. 

Defining a culture of sustainability 

What exactly is a culture of sustainability within an organization?  

Firms working towards developing or maintaining an existing culture of sustainability ensure that all of their people, from board members and senior directors to investors and shop floor staff, hold a shared assumption and belief. That shared belief relates to the importance of integrating the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability across all aspects of its business operations.

Further, a culture of sustainability consists of shared values, practices, norms, language, and words adopted by a company’s people, assisting them in making individual and societal choices and decisions that support environmental, economic, and social sustainability within the society or community they exist among. 

How to promote sustainability: A step-by-step guide

For firms looking for meaningful ways to promote sustainability, SINAI provides a step-by-step guide to help get you there. From clearly communicating your purpose and offering incentives to upskilling your team and ensuring senior-level commitment, our five actionable steps will help your company promote a culture of sustainability that makes a real impact in your deep decarbonization efforts. 

Step 1: Communicate your purpose 

Step one for your firm should be the development of a simple and clearly articulated purpose that is publicly stated to mobilize everyone in your firm towards the same goal. Purpose-driven companies operating within the consumer goods, apparel, and even energy and materials industries combine sustainability goals with higher profits and, in many cases, market capitalization as well.

Take German automation company Siemens, for example. Their purpose is front and center when you land on their company web page:  

Source: Siemens  

Step 2: Offer incentives 

Once your firm has an agreed purpose, your next step should be towards transforming your purpose into clear incentives. Monetary or other incentives signal to everyone within your firm that your purpose is not just lip service but is meant as a key outcome.

Formal mechanisms can take the shape of internal carbon-pricing schemes to incentivize innovation and investment, for example, by publicly reporting carbon-adjusted earnings per share. Additionally, your firm can introduce reporting and incentives schemes that reward innovative carbon-reduction practices.

Step 3: Upskill your team 

The next step in realizing your firm’s culture of sustainability comes down to upskilling your team. By upskilling your firm’s employees at scale across different parts of the organization, you will be able to drive significant benefits while supporting your decarbonization management

Firstly, a well-informed sales force can effectively communicate your firm’s low-carbon value proposition to customers. Secondly, a skilled and knowledgeable procurement team can mobilize your suppliers and lock in access to renewable energy sources more easily. 

Capability-building efforts can also expand to your supply chain and customers, especially if your company wants to build the ecosystems and communities needed to support Scope 3 emissions-reduction efforts.

Step 4: Encourage internal alliances 

The fourth step firms must take to build a meaningful culture of sustainability involves encouraging and nurturing internal alliances within your firm.

Building a collective of experts across your company is critical to growing the organization’s access to the latest ideas and innovations when it comes to deep decarbonization and should form an integral part of your sustainability strategy. And your company’s drive for net-zero and sustainability can become a magnet for top talent.

Step 5: Implement senior commitment 

The fifth and final step is about CEOs and CFOs taking the lead in their organization’s deep decarbonization efforts. 

87% of Corporate Knights Global 100 most sustainable companies link executive compensation to meeting set sustainability targets. This pay linked to target trend is up from 80% last year.

For firms serious about reaching net-zero, commitment needs to start at the top with the implementation and reporting of senior-level sustainability KPIs.

Corporate sustainability management made easy

SINAI’s decarbonization platform can help your firm promote a culture of sustainability that reaches beyond public promises, facilitating concerted and collective action from everyone in your business. Reach your net-zero goals with ease and as quickly as possible with SINAI. Contact us for a demo of our software today.

SINAI Decarbonization Platform

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