Getting the management’s buy-in is often one of the most difficult first tasks when working on a Sustainability or CSR program in a company. Whether you’ve been hired to join or start a “Sustainability Department” or you want to begin implementing green initiatives alongside your regular missions in your company, chances are you’ll have to convince your CEO to have enough time, resources and credit to accomplish your missions. Today we’re taking a look at the main arguments you can use to convince your board that Sustainability can be profitable, positively impacting both on your bottom line and reputation. Here are our 7 favorite arguments, what’s yours?
1/ Meet your customer requests
Whether you’re working in a B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumers) industry, your customers are probably demanding more responsibility and involvement from you. Pick up your phone and call one of your Sales colleagues to check if they have ever received a RFP (request for proposal) requesting your Sustainability report for instance! Investigate and read market studies to discover the percentage of your consumers who would rather buy a more responsible brand. Then evaluate the percentage of clients you may have lost by not going green – this will be one of the best arguments to help win your case.
2/ Attract and retain talent
Talent is the most valuable resource any company can have. Recruiting talent requires an enormous amount of time and money, so you want to make sure you attract the right kind of people who fit your corporate culture… and that they won’t want to leave after a couple of months. Providing them with a transparent, respectful and engaging work environment will have a tremendous impact on your human resources by attracting the best candidates and giving them a reason to stay and commit to your company.
3/ Build a strong business case
Try to document your process as much as possible, and you could be able to build a strong business case to strengthen both your Sustainability program and your brand. I’m not only thinking about Sustainability reporting, but also evaluating and communicating about your impacts and improvements to your stakeholders through various ways: events, products packaging, social media. If the product or service you’re selling is related to a social or environmental issue, building a strong business case around your Sustainability program can be a fantastic communication opportunity.
4/ Generate savings
“Sustainability is a major investment”, you’ll often hear. It can be, but it can also be a huge opportunity for savings. Reducing your company’s impact on the planet can start by reducing your energy or water consumption, or even by launching a circular economy initiative in order to lower your resource consumption. Try to evaluate reasonable targets and the associated savings you could generate within the next 5 years, and you should manage to get your Financial Manager on your side!
5/ Protect your brand image and reputation
From the horse meat scandal to the fast fashion companies involved in the Rana Plaza disaster, there are too many examples of companies who have lost their reputation because of a lack of transparency and non-ethical practices. If you don’t want to ruin your company’s reputation, take the lead and face your problems now using a proactive and positive approach. You’ll be surprised, but most of your stakeholders actually do want to help you become a better company, and will encourage you to do so.
6/ Benchmark against your competitors
It’s likely that most of your competitors already have a Sustainability program in place, or have published a Sustainability report. Check their websites and you may even find a whole CSR section detailing their strategy, initiatives and presenting their results. Potential customers (and future talents!) may compare you and choose the “greenest” option, or the one that seems more responsible to them. You don’t want to give that chance to your competitors, so it’s time to start your own plan!
7/ Demonstrate your values
Companies all have corporate values that don’t seem to be related to Sustainability at all at first glance. Values like innovation, resilience, collaboration or creativity. But take a closer look: those are all values that take on their full meaning in a Sustainability context. Innovation and creativity are exactly what sustainability today is made of, and are key elements when you need to think outside the box and imagine new solutions or business models.
You will benefit from your CSR program by using it as a tool to demonstrate your corporate values to both your internal and external stakeholders. In this process, collaboration is the secret ingredient that will help you push your actions throughout your workforce, and resilience, by definition, gives you the strength to face risks and transform them into opportunities.
And you, what arguments did you use to advance your Sustainability program?