Today, top tier companies recognize that a focus on the environment yields significant competitive advantage. The most obvious benefits include: cost savings, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, improved brand reputation, and increased customer loyalty.
Savvy corporations recognize that credible environmental sustainability programs are also an effective tool to recruit, retain, inspire, and motivate a values-driven workforce. According to a survey done by American Banker, 92% of young workers would choose working for an environmentally friendly company. Even more impressively, 77% of MBA students today are willingly to earn a lower wage in order to work for a company with a credible sustainability strategy.
To learn more about the people side of successful corporate sustainability initiatives, I met with Karen K. Nathan, Principal Consultant at Olivine LLC (www.olivineconsulting.com). According to Ms. Nathan “corporate sustainability efforts can only come to full blossom when management skillfully engages their workforce.” Ms. Nathan has a decade’s experience in the field of Organizational Development and she advises companies how to achieve bottom line results by developing effective human resource strategies to support an organizational culture of sustainability.
The key, as Ms. Nathan puts it, “is to make sustainability a part of your company’s DNA.” Some best practices to help accomplish this goal include:
- Establishing and communicating a clear vision and mission as it relates to sustainability,
- Involving the whole organization, starting with the executive level,
- Encouraging passion in the workforce and allowing employees the freedom to run with and implement their ideas,
- Leveraging the diversity of your company and allowing for different ways to engage in sustainability initiatives,
- Making sustainability a part of every employees job description,
- Tying variable compensation to meeting sustainability metrics.
According to Ms. Nathan, putting your business on the path to sustainability does not have to be an expensive or prolonged endeavor. Initially, the most important area of focus should be your very own workforce and organizational culture. The best ideas often come from within. And, it will be easier to implement the plan when you build internal support.
May I suggest that you consider Karen for your corporate clients who would benefit from sustainability counseling. And candidly, this is the future and just about every company could use the help.