Embedding Sustainability as part of workplace culture

by Natasha Dwane

Introduction

Sustainability has become part of all of our lives and far more than a buzz word for businesses. According to a UK survey, 85% of the public believe that living more sustainably is vital.

As more individuals are becoming more conscious about their decisions as consumers and caring more about what progress the UK as a country is making, businesses, councils and the government need to demonstrate that sustainability is forming part of their own decisions.

While there are many ways to reduce environmental impact such as switching to energy saving lightbulbs, reducing waste and using a green energy supplier, becoming a sustainable organisation goes beyond a few positive environmental changes and requires looking into the future, understanding the needs of individuals, the needs of our planet and integrating these considerations into everyday decisions, the businesses values and strategy and ultimately forming part of their culture.

Why is embedding sustainability as part of workplace culture important?

There is a clear ‘knowing vs doing’ gap, despite 90% of executives believing sustainability is important, only 60% of corporations have a sustainability strategy.  Sustainability helps generate long-term value, for the benefit of people, the planet and the purse strings. It is important to see the value in investing to become sustainable organisation and ensure the process of becoming one is ongoing and forms part of your organisational identity.

Getting your employees on board

  • Listen to your employees and actively engage with them. Workplaces are where we spend most of our adult lives, and so as collectives of people, real impact is made
  • Identify staff who are passionate and knowledgeable about sustainability and give them key roles in supporting the drive to become a more sustainable organisation
  • Encourage employees to get involved, consider creating fundraising activities or team-based competitions to implement sustainable practices

Integrate into part of everything you do

  • Make sustainability a crucial part of your organisation’s values, mission and strategy. This is a great place to start as this sets the tone for how you want to be viewed and will help drive business change
  • Prioritise the economic, social and environmental agenda as part of business planning
  • Embed sustainability in systems, processes and decision-making frameworks
  • Develop ethical policies which promote equality, positive behaviors and consider the environment
  • Educate leaders on the importance of sustainability and encourage them to think of innovative ways of sharing and embedding these values within their teams

Measure your success

  • Develop an understanding of where your organisation is at the moment, generate metrics to measure your environmental and social impact and use these to measure success
  • Set clear goals and objectives as part of your business planning and measure against these to quantify success. Think beyond your energy usage and consider the positive improvements made towards staff wellbeing and creating social value
  • Make this process ongoing, continue to measure, continue to reflect, and continue to evolve

Shout about it!

 Celebrate your success, share this with your employees and the public and allow this to motivate and generate momentum within your organisation to continually improve.

These are actions which 4OC are actively working towards delivering both for ourselves and for our clients through utilising elements of our Sustainability Framework. If you want to find out more about the Sustainability Framework, check out all the exciting stuff we’re doing here

 


Natasha is a Business Consultant at 4OC. With her passion for sustainability, she has been supporting the team develop the Sustainability Framework and Sustainability Health Check.

Natasha also manages the Dorset Declares programme, a not-for-profit community platform, which encourages businesses in the area to take meaningful climate action, through providing free advice guides, as well as access to free tools and resources.