Earth Hour is not just for one hour; the point is also to carry on sustainable activities beyond the hour. That means making a commitment to a continual change throughout the year that reduces your impact on the environment. Ten key steps to achieving this are:
1. Put your best people in charge of the sustainability agenda Appoint a Chief Sustainability Officer. Ensure this is a person who knows your business well and has the credibility to drive change in your sustainability agenda. The CSO needs to have a direct reporting line to the CEO and should also have objectives that are accountable to the Board of Directors. This accountability will ensure progress can happen.
2. Commit to buying clean energy The shift to clean energy is being made by companies of all sizes and from all sectors. Planning for the long term when it comes to sustainable energy is not only good for the environment but it can reduce business risks and uncover potential cost savings. Investing in renewable energy also resonates with your employees, communities and new recruits.
3. Commit to transparency Assess the risks that climate change and nature loss pose to your business and be transparent about this with your employees, partners and communities.
4. Manage your supply chain Review your supply chain and consider the environmental impact that it is having. This is how huge change can be made! You can use your buying power to request sustainable practices from your suppliers and this will push suppliers to adapt and create environmentally friendly processes.
5. Influence industry associations Use your influence to educate your industry associations. Confidence invites curiosity and can affect great change.
6. Push for smart government policy As a business leader you have an important voice, use this voice to push for smart policies around environmental legislation. Smart policy is the most important asset we have to address these issues and we need businesses to stand up and show your support for positive environmental moves by policy-makers.
7. Engage with your challengers and detractors If you are challenged by a complaint, take a step back and see if there is a better way to address the situation. There are plenty of examples where organisations have teamed up with opposers to make positive changes in their processes, which in turn protect the environment. Your leadership could also pave the way for other organisations to do the same.
8. Join environmental organisations Instead of separating big businesses and NGOs, we should learn from each other. Both sides can benefit from having an expert on their board giving a different perspective.
9. Educate your Investors Be proud of the changes you are making within your company to address environmental issues. Make a point of telling investors what you are doing and why it is good business sense to be doing so.
10. Tell your customers what you are doing! Consumers are more enlightened than ever on the importance of sustainable practices and more critical than ever on businesses who support unethical practices. By telling your customers what you are doing and being honest about the hurdles and complexities, you will gain credibility and respect. Technology is developing at a pace where it is becoming easier for consumers to check on businesses’ “green” practices. Take the giki app in the UK - a mobile app that informs consumers about the products they buy and the companies they buy them from - https://gikibadges.com/
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