Sustainability. For some companies, it’s part of their mission. For others, the focus may spring from economic or market factors.
Increasingly, corporations are realizing that a focus on sustainability has positive outcomes – improved brand image, satisfied shareholders, increased productivity – and are prioritizing sustainability efforts. Wherever you are on developing and achieving sustainability goals, we have three recommendations to put you and your goals on the right track.
It’s not easy to define sustainability goals. There are so many aspects to sustainability and great opportunities across your supply chain to improve sustainability. How does sustainability fit in your overall company strategy? Maybe sustainability is new to you, or maybe your cost-cutting efforts from the 1980s can be re-framed as sustainability. You might choose several goals to achieve over a longer period, and then just one or two focus areas for the next few years.
Consider the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) for inspiration; 192 countries adopted these 17 interconnected goals, which were set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The aim is to achieve them by 2030. Whether your company is international, regional, or local, these goals are a great start to understanding sustainability and how your company can contribute.
Prioritize your goals and deadlines to achieve them. To set these targets that best fit your strategy, and that are achievable and meaningful, consider this human-centered design framework that we use often: Desirability, Feasibility, Viability.
Desirability: Do your stakeholders have a specific need that must be met in your sustainability efforts? Will consumers purchase your product or service based on your demonstrated sustainability efforts? Are your customers insisting on specific sustainability accomplishments in the materials you provide? Is your board of directors looking for specific, visible sustainability efforts? These factors may be a primary influencer in selecting the focus areas for your goals.
Feasibility: Are there technologies and supply chain approaches that can either help or hinder your sustainability efforts? Knowing what technology is or isn’t available may influence your goals and targets.
Viability: How will the cost of your product or service be impacted? Sustainability efforts may impact costs, require capital investment, or be influenced by regulatory requirements. Understanding these factors should be part of setting your targets.
Do you have the expertise, knowledge, and resources to achieve these goals? To understand the UN SDG 2030 targets and how businesses can track their progress, the United Nations Global Compact has a free Action Manager tool.
We’ve partnered with many clients to develop sustainability plans and understand the opportunities and challenges of these plans. Much of our work is in support of the UN SDGs, including
Sustainability has become the responsibility of every company. We can help you achieve your sustainability goals – from defining them to setting targets and determining the appropriate technology defining targeted approaches.