Why does your sustainability strategy need to evolve? By Imogen Player

As with your business processes, your sustainability strategy also needs to evolve. If you’ve had a strategy for a while now, you need to make sure that it’s still relevant and applicable. The important point to note here is that you’re evolving your strategy, not revolutionising it.

If you’ve had a sustainability strategy for a few years and are reaching the end of the phase you’re focusing on, or you’ve achieved your short-term goals but now need to add more detail to your longer-term goals, you need to consider evolving and adding more detail to your strategy. This may also include a natural element of improving your strategy, as you have lessons learnt from delivering your current strategy.

Hear from Landsec, Bouygues E&S and the Sustainability Tool as to why you should evolve your strategy, and the best practice methods used to achieve this. Similarly, find out from Flannery and Advanté why as SMEs it’s important to continually improve their strategies and not let them remain stagnant.

Your Pillars for Delivery

Most organisations will have similar pillars for delivery for their sustainability strategy, which typically include:

  • Leadership
  • Education and training
  • Governance, including responsibility and accountability
  • Supply chain engagement
  • Performance management

It’s likely that the way you carry out these processes may have changed over a few years, therefore you need to update your strategy accordingly. For example, you might be engaging with your suppliers in a new way, or you have a new supply chain charter or sustainable procurement policy that you need to reference. You may have invested in a new performance management tool or an education provider that’s helpful to include within your strategy.

Current climate

How has your industry, or even the world, changed since your strategy launched? Over the last couple of years with a global pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine war, your processes or the way that you work or source goods and services may have changed. You need to consider and reflect this in your strategy – think current and topically.

Your Impact on the Climate

Whilst thinking about how the current climate impacts your business, also think about how your business impacts the climate. You will have considered this in your initial sustainability strategy – fundamentally these are your sustainability impacts and whilst it’s likely that they haven’t drastically changed since your previous strategy launched, there may be slight differences that you need to consider. Are there things you need to now include in your strategy that you didn’t previously?

Stakeholders

Your strategy needs to reflect the current needs of your stakeholders, and if these needs have changed, or your stakeholder group has changed, then your strategy must evolve to reflect this. You need to address the relevant and applicable issues to your organisation and your stakeholders, to achieve effective buy-in and impactful results.

Data

Now that you’ve collected data for your current strategy to inform your KPIs, you can make data-driven decisions and updates to KPIs. This makes your strategy more mature and will help all stakeholders to understand your true progress. Think about making your KPIs SMARTer (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound).

Benchmarking

It’s likely that you undertook this exercise when informing your current or previous strategy, but your competitors and clients evolve, so it’s helpful to keep abreast of what they’re doing, focusing on, and achieving. Make sure you know what good looks like in your market currently, not from when you first developed your strategy a few years ago.

Are you achieving your initial strategy?

Finally, take a step back and think about what you’ve achieved so far and where you want to be – is your gap analysis telling you that you’re on track? It’s important that you hold yourself to account and don’t remove KPIs or goals because you’re not on track! However, you could think about adding in additional shorter-term KPIs that will support you to achieve your initial goal.

It’s important to reiterate here that we’re not talking about completely redoing your strategy, your drivers and priorities for sustainability won’t have drastically changed over the last few years. We’re talking about evolving your strategy, so that it’s best-practice, realistic, and exists in that perfect sweet spot of ambitious yet achievable.

Get in touch with Imogen to discuss evolving your sustainability strategy.

For more information

Imogen Player
Senior Consultant
Imogen@actionsustainability.com

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