How to create a sustainability strategy for your company?


Alberto Bailin & Azul Stengel, Founders of Lienzo

Photo by Manson Unrau

Let’s start by defining what a sustainability strategy is: a plan that focuses on actions to increase economic growth while promoting environmental and social sustainability. A clear sustainability plan should measure environmental and social footprints, state objectives, adapt operations to long-term changes and communicate clearly to all stakeholders.

Our goal this week is to provide you with a short list of steps to effectively create a sustainability strategy:

First, companies need assess where they are today and where they want to go in the future. Conduction a self-assessment key to answer these questions. Companies should take into account market trends that are affecting the supply and demand of products, customers' demands and upcoming legislation as these will affect annual reports and disclosures regarding green house gas emissions and environmental impact. Once you have an assessment, the company can set objectives and create a plan, stating a vision that not only takes into consideration the company but also the world. By setting clear goals for the long-term, companies can work their way backwards to set short-, medium- and long-term targets and objectives.

Secondly, once these objectives have been set, companies should be able to create a brand narrative. To do so, it is helpful to take a step back and think again about the brand DNA. Incorporating sustainable values regarding the environment, society and innovation within a brands DNA will help the company create a dynamic brand that can easily adapt to these concepts. Therefore, companies can integrate sustainability as a key value within their mission, without compromising their vision or their aesthetics, whilst maintaining flexibility for upcoming changes.

The third step would then be implementing this strategy. This is undoubtedly the most crucial aspect as it will be the one effecting actual change. Most of the tools for implementing a sustainability strategy are simple and will lead to efficient and effective change within the company’s structure. Committing to improving environmental performance by fighting greenwashing and publicly pledging to work towards a sustainable future will crate both transparency and accountability. These two elements are important for a company to efficiently interact with stakeholders and communicate their strategy externally and internally. Further more, companies should create teams or departments fully specialized in the sustainable development of the brand. These teams can focus on assessing the impact and needs of the company to properly identify and adjust short- and long-term objectives to reach performance goals based on data driven metrics. Finally, it is key to periodically review this strategy to integrate innovations and improved concepts of sustainability.

Every company’s sustainable strategy should be fitted to the company’s needs and tailored to its strategic objectives. Yet, it is important to highlight that for these strategies to be effective, they should be in line with the UN’s 2030 agenda goals, such as higher transparency, the implementation of regulations and the decarbonisation plan. In the years to come, those companies with effective sustainable strategies will dominate the market and enjoy sustainable economic growth.