Sustainability has become a focus for many companies. This is a great development and has potential to shape the world we live in for the better. However, the push for sustainability does not translate immediately to the desired outcomes. A corporate sustainability program is a great first step, but it often stalls. What can companies do to ensure they meet the sustainability goals they’ve committed to? Let’s take a look at some common challenges and potential solutions.
The board wants emissions reduced by 1/4th. Good luck! Companies will often arrive at a goal that sounds good without considering the steps to get there. Reducing emissions by 1/4th is certainly an achievable goal, but the question of timing and areas of focus aren’t clear.
Before determining sustainability goals, it’s important to determine contributors to the company’s current carbon footprint. Does your company operate in an industry held to environmental compliance standards? Are there areas that may provide quick wins? Are there areas where a solution will take more time to institute? Asking these questions and exploring company output will make the road map to sustainability far easier to follow.
Sustainability isn’t a project resolved in a single fiscal year. Sustainability is a serious project that will require evaluating current company processes through a new lens. Most companies creating a corporate sustainability program have areas that can produce quick wins: perhaps that’s changing the lightbulbs to be more energy efficient, or being more responsible about turning off computers and other machinery over weekends. But these steps will be drops in the bucket when compared with the amount of emissions produced by driving employees.
Companies must consider sustainability as an initiative like cost-control and liability reduction. Changing company policy over the span of a few days might not be practical, but creating a multi-year, multi-step plan? That’s how businesses make sustainability a long-term and achievable goal.
At any grocery store, produce is separated into two categories: organic and everything that isn’t organic. Regardless of stance on pesticides, GMO’s, ethical farming or taste, a major difference between the two is anything labeled “organic” is generally more expensive. There are sales, there are exceptions, but for the most part it’s the truth. Well, sustainable options are a bit like organic produce at the grocery store. “Energy efficient” or “planet friendly” options typically cost more. While that may sound as though it’s limited to consumer goods, it isn’t. Here’s an example.
A business services company decides to adopt a corporate sustainability program. Beyond making changes to their lightbulbs and switching to energy efficient appliances, they also decide to invest in solar energy. This means paying for solar panels and their installation. In the long run, it’s removing the company’s reliance on fossil fuel energy and will hopefully pay for itself. Upfront, however, solar panels can be expensive, and the installation is also expensive. This may cause finance leaders and sustainability advocates within the company to butt heads.
This hurdle is more communication concern. It is reasonable for those responsible for company expenses to be cautious when it comes to paying more for something that can easily be found at a lower price. As covered in the previous section, companies must approach sustainability as a long-term initiative. Part of that planning should be meeting the criteria to receive government incentives.
It all comes down to the numbers. Numbers that, as it turns out, can be a challenge to come up with. Companies are having a hard time internally calculating their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, let alone which scopes they fit into. And that makes sense. Unless the company deals in sustainability and emissions on a regular basis, knowing the exact figures wouldn’t be expected. How does a company rectify this?
There are plenty of firms helping companies with their corporate sustainability programs. These firms should help companies determine their current GHG emissions even advice on which pieces to take on first. One example would be a company’s vehicle program.
Let’s say a company is looking to reduce GHG emissions. Committed to a number, they want to achieve their goal within the year. Analyzing their vehicle program, they learn that by reducing the number of high emission vehicles in their mobile workforce, they’ll curb their GHG emissions by 10%. With this information, the company can work on an incentive program to help mobile workers switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles.
While the challenges of lofty goals, long-term plans, alignment and metrics can halt companies in their tracks, with the right approach these challenges can be overcome. Motus might not provide a solution to each of these issues, but our sustainability product is a helpful one.
Much like the last example, we help companies analyze the GHG emissions of their vehicle program. It’s a three-step process that begins with measuring the vehicle program’s impact. We then offer possible paths forward that won’t upend business operations before tracking and analyzing the results. Interested in learning more? Explore our sustainability solution.