When do you need Sustainability help?

It is reported that Sustainability is moving up board room agendas, with 55% of companies giving it in increasing focus.

But are the organisational structures within the businesses ready for this topic and how can they prepare themselves?

In the larger corporations, a Chief Sustainability Officer, Sustainability Directors and whole departments exist to address the fast-moving and broad-reaching topics around sustainability.

But where does that leave the potentially smaller business in the supply chains, when they don’t have that ‘equal and opposite’? As the demand for regulatory reporting, supplier questionnaires and internal improvement are required, who deals with this in a coordinated way if you don’t have a whole department or designated individual to manage it?

And how do you know it is the right time to build sustainability into your Organisation Chart?

Some key trigger points to watch for if you think you might need sustainability help, to determine if the time is right to embed sustainability into your business:

  • The external environment is changing quicker than the interior of the organisation, so it needs someone to help it adapt. Maybe the industry you work in is moving at a pace in terms of regulations or you are seeing your competitors advancing on sustainability.
  • Your partners are asking you about sustainability. This could be your customers, suppliers or your employees. If you are finding that you are constantly being asked to provide evidence of your sustainability credentials in tenders, you are getting asked about your sustainability at careers fairs and your customers send questionnaires.
  • You are in an industry that faces imminent sustainability risks. As seen in the news every day, pressure is mounting from various angles on being more sustainable. And some industries are facing increasing pressure and therefore risk, think elimination of Fossil fuels.

Just like the turning point in the growth cycle of businesses, when they start getting specialist IT, HR and Marketing resources to enable and support growth, sustainability is a new focus area. As you grow and take on larger clients and customers, bigger workforce and premises, you will bump into this topic more and more and it will become more important.

Types of Sustainability help you can get are varied and companies have various options available to them.

It very much depends on the size of the business, relative importance of sustainability and industry.

Create a new position or department

This is not for every business, and not the first step on the sustainability journey. This takes an investment of both time and resources to get this established. Also, by overlaying a new function like sustainability in a gung-ho way – you might shell shock your organisation.

Appoint a Sustainability Director

We have seen, in larger companies, someone in house is given an additional role of Sustainability Director. Typically, this sits with HR or Compliance but is actually complementary to many existing roles. It might be just as important to consider the function that has the biggest sustainability impacts in your organisation.

Upskill the inhouse team

One model to get the sustainability processes moving and embedded is to upskill existing employees or even a team. One of our clients set up a ‘Green Team’ to collate, understand and implement sustainability actions. This approach has great buy-in from the organisations as it is a bit more ‘grassroots’ than the traditional top-down, but it also gave them a great experience to think strategically and present their proposals to the board.

Bring in the professionals

Just like in the early days of Finance, HR, Marketing and IT, when your business can only justify and outsourced resources, this can also be the same for Sustainability. Just like in the model which exists in the mature functions, Sustainability advice can be sought on a one-off or ongoing basis.

At Sustainable X, we can support your business if you are not quite ready to create a Sustainability Team or Department.

We often support newly appointed Sustainability Directors to build a strategy that is right for their business, ensuring that they recognise what they are already doing and focus on where they can make the biggest impacts. We offer an online training program for teams that want to learn a bit more but also have their day job to contend with. We can hold your hand as you establish your actions and embed sustainability deeply into your operation. This can be at your timing but usually works in a monthly cycle.

Get in touch if you think you are ready to accelerate your Sustainability and need some help!


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