Sustainability: Does it really matter what you measure?

Do you want to grow and succeed? Do you want to retain and attract the best team? Do you want a competitive innovative product offering?

Do you want to do all this AND adopt some sustainable behaviours? If you answer yes to either question, then yes it does matter what sustainability measures you put in place.

If you don’t measure your business performance against the most important priorities in your business, how do you know if you are achieving them? How does your team also stay focussed on the task? And integrating sustainability into this is key.

If we agree that the need to measure performance, we get to the what and the why. Everyone is aware of the traditional business metrics but are they still the right ones for you and the evolving marketplace? Do they reflect the current legislation? The ethos of the company?

From a Sustainability measurement point of view, this is difficult as there are not universal definitions which encompass the environmental, society, and legal aspects. There is no single sustainability measure that can tell the whole story. Although there are a some quite common Metrics businesses can use:

1. Energy: This is the key indicator most organisation use to measure overall efficiency, they less energy used, the more efficient you are and the lower environmental impact and operational costs. Many organisations also track their renewal energy usage and initiates.

2. Materials: Measuring materials usage and being innovative in your processes, inherently has a direct impact on sustainability. The less raw materials you use, the greater positive impact you have on the environment.

3. Waste: By reducing your waste you can have a greater overall impact on the environment and drive efficiencies in your processes. Measuring the waste going into landfill or the waterways, in kg or litres, can also be a driver for operational efficiencies and innovation.

4. Injuries: Monitoring safety has shown to have a direct correlation to greater employee retention, higher productivity, less absenteeism and higher profits. Highly performing businesses use this as a key method to measure their corporate responsibility.

5. Gender Equality and Pay equity: For larger corporates, this is a key indicator of the health of a business, as it should be for SME’s. By supporting gender equality initiatives, business benefit for diverse thinking, greater innovation, and higher productivity. Legally, all companies will need to report their Gender pay gaps and we anticipate pay equity in businesses to be a future target.

6. Community involvement: Being involved and reflecting your community benefits your business through higher employee engagement in the local things they care about. Its evidence that you care as a business. Some Tenders are now asking about your companies’ social values and a measure of this.

Your next steps

Everyone’s sustainability measures and ambitions are different. If you would like help to understand what’s right for your business, get in touch or download our ‘Where to start guide’ below:



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