5 key points to achieve sustainable management in your company
An SME can reach professionalization through a sustainability strategy, ILUNKA founder Adriana Pulido claims.
Throughout my years of walking alongside companies through the pathway to sustainable management, the second comment I’ve received the most is, “But that’s only for larger companies, right?”. The first one always is: “I don’t understand what is it that you do”.
Anyway, the point is that, for some reason, there’s a belief that “sustainability” is a privilege exclusive to large companies, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, a small or medium-sized enterprise that’s still behind in the pathway toward the institutionalization of their practices and processes can find in a sustainability strategy the ideal framework and roadmap to professionalize, but especially to stand out from the rest. This is the reason I’m giving you 5 practical and simple points to start your path toward sustainable development, implementing them right away and at a low cost.
1.- Create a committee with the main strategical areas of your company
These types of committees are very valuable because they work as a management, decision-making, scenario-analysis, communication, and reporting device between areas. That way, everyone is aware of the priorities and up to date to avoid duplicating actions. If additionally, you assign this committee the responsibility of considering the vision of sustainability in their decision-making process, it turns into an instrument to permeate the sustainability culture in collaborators. Some of the areas I recommend you include are general management, human resources, purchasing, finances, operations, communications, and marketing.
2.- Training and sensitization
If these are your first steps in sustainability, it’s important that you make sure that your key personnel understands the meaning of sustainability, social responsibility, and their relevance not only for the company but for humanity. It’s important that we let people know that sustainable development is not a privilege exclusive to some people or companies, but a co-responsibility between everyone in the search for the common good. Coming from this posture, let them know that becoming a sustainable company will only happen if every area contributes to the final result.
3.- Analyze your risks
Get the committee together and, with the help of everyone, perform a risk analysis (probability and impact) your company is exposed to in social, environmental, reputational, corruption-related, human rights violations-related, biodiversity, availability of natural resources to create raw materials, and climate change-derived natural disasters matters, among others. Once you identify these, create a matrix to prioritize those that should be addressed first.
4.- Write your sustainability policy
Policies are the guidelines that rule the actions of a company. They give the staff the chance to refer to a framework that will provide the bases to act in case of doubt. The policy shouldn’t be too long, you can add technical criteria or guidelines to follow or you can just define it in an inspiring, clear paragraph about the posture of the company on sustainability.
5.- An immediate plan
Based on social and environmental risks, define two main matters the company commits to improving upon. It’ll always be more efficient if you assign this to one of the key areas in the company, one that, because of its roles, is closer to the subject. Here are some ideas for your plan:
a) Create an ethics code that regards environmental care, respect for human rights, commitment to neighboring communities, and the promotion of equality, among others. b) Design a program about environmental care that considers the reduction, mitigation, or reparation of negative impact. Include matters related to water, air, emissions, and waste management. Alongside a civil society organization, organize a volunteering activity that involves your staff and their families. c) Consider the benefits these activities offer both on a personal and a professional level, as well as for society. d) Perform an analysis of the demographic level of your internal staff. From an equality point of view, analyze the conditions they work in and if there’s an income gap between men and women in the same positions; if participation between men and women is equal in high-responsibility positions, and if there are structures in place to promote the professional development of women.
Remember, 2022 will be a year as strong as humanity itself, a year of consciousness and renewal of confidence. A year of decisions and firm steps in the rebuilding of our world towards sustainable development.