Three Keys to Advancing Sustainability within Your Company
As a first time attendee at the Sustainable Brands 2015 conference a couple weeks ago, I had a great time seeing the people we work with face to face – meeting several for the first time. I also met many new potential partners and had some fun, innovative discussions that I believe will lead to new partnerships that advance our collective sustainable goals.
More importantly, I came away learning that sustainability isn’t just about preserving the environment or ensuring that your company and industry partners are complying with different regulatory bodies. It is more about defining sustainability to ensure that your brand and your industry are around for the long haul. In observing the different ways each speaker challenged us to leave a positive impact within our respective roles, I came away reflecting on each angle of that challenge:
As a champion for positive change within your organization, it is your job to make sustainability everyone’s responsibility; you must be a thought leader within the organization constantly pushing for positive change. Learn from your defeats and expect pushback – but motivate yourself to always seek to understand where your colleagues are coming from.
Lead the Company
When you are the sustainability hammer, everything you see should look like a sustainability nail. But before laying out a strategic vision, audit each department’s key objectives. Don’t be surprised if your colleagues are doing something good already – but for a different motivation than yours. As a nonprofit organization working with foundation directors, supply chain managers, sustainability and CSR professionals and corporate executives, you’d be surprised how many times Good360 educates our current partners about how we already work with them – even a few who were at Sustainable Brands!
Influence your Industry
I was encouraged to hear near consensus in session after session about how we should step up as a collective group when it comes to being more responsible across peer industries. Although marketers are beginning to take heed of the growing evidence that consumers are more demanding in knowing the brands they purchase from align with values they hold, the “business of sustainability” is very collaborative in nature. I’m sure the best ideas have yet to emerge, but I’m confident that those ideas will spring forth from unique collaborations within and across industry lines.
However, in order to bring about any change, the first step is to create a benchmark where you can measure your progress. Work within yourself to set personal goals, your company to identify quantifiable metrics to improve upon, and your industry to set a vision for the future. With that in mind, I’m pumped to come back next year to hear the sustainability progress that has been made and look forward to the conversations we’ll have before then.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jonathon Cannon works for Good360, an international nonprofit that connects companies that have products with nonprofits that need them. Since 1983, Good360 has distributed more than $8 billion in donated goods around the world, helping its network of 40,000 prequalified nonprofits strengthen communities and improve the lives of millions of people in need. Jonathon works with corporate partners to build successful giving programs that align with their respective sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and supply chain objectives.