If Sustainability is about Rethinking, then What Does Leadership need to Communicate for Success?

image: communicating CSRChange is at hand.  The beliefs of the past are being replaced with the personal and business sustainability ideas of today.  Business sustainability leaders realize the speed and quality of their response to business sustainability opportunities will ultimately affect company profitability.  Letting go of traditional approaches and creating a culture of  expanded eco awareness is the first step.  All change begins with an idea and an openness to explore the boundaries of the current world.  Within our sustainability consulting, we observe that those making the biggest strides are not necessarily the ones who have the greatest capacity, the financial means or even the most resources.  The ones who implement change are those who simply want to change and are committed doing it. 

Too often the business world sees only the challenges directly in front of them and limit the range of possibilities to what has already been achieved.  Like many others, we seek to go beyond the bounds of the current state and explore the avenues of business sustainability that will bridge this gap.

More companies today are looking to ‘sustainability’ leadership as a competitive core competency.  Defined formally by some as Sustainability Officers, these leadership roles are often tasked with a singular purpose: identify and manage potential environmental, social, and economic risks.  While this may sound straight forward, these concerns can vary greatly across industries.  However, the skills required for change management and implementing a corporate sustainability plan spanning the full spectrum across an organization rest not only in Sustainability Officers but all levels of the organization. 

For business sustainability to be successful, communicating corporate sustainability goals and metrics is critical.  The key ingredient is tying corporate sustainability initiatives to day to day processes.  It makes CSR more personable to an employee and helps employees to identify their role in corporate responsibility.   So, what do employees want to hear during change

  • Vision: A high level vision of the outcome that will result from the change.  
  • Passion: A passionate, heartfelt point of view about why the change is needed for the organization's continued success.
  • Support: This goes with passion and is about leaders showing continued support for the efforts needed to make the change.
  • Benefits: Tell them what is in it for them and the company as a whole. 
  • Acknowledgement: People want to talk about this and be told their feelings about the change are valid. 
  • Specifics: Details about what the changes are, when they will happen and what they need to do to make it a success 
  • Updates: A commitment to planned communications at regular intervals to inform them of the progress of the changes.
  • Declaration of Completion: They want to know when it's done. If it is a positive change, a celebration is always welcome. If it's a change that is difficult, tell them it's complete so they can breath that sigh of relief and move forward.

Leveraging these examples, there is a clear relationship between purpose and need. Sustainability leadership should be aligned with the business sustainability goals and objectives of the organization.  In seeking to define required competencies of your own sustainability officers, our sustainability consulting provides information and resources to companies seeking to redefine traditional business sustainability strategies by aligning business purpose with sustainability leadership across all areas of their organization. 

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