In March, we had an environment surgery for our Foundations for Responsible Business members. Our members joined our two experts Anouk Dijkman, sustainability manager at Fooditude and Sarah Dixon, senior environment manager at ISS Facility Services to discuss all things sustainability and environment. Here are some key takeaways from the experts and our members:
How to engage people on your company’s sustainability journey
Taking sustainability seriously means that your whole business will need to get involved to make a real impact. It’s not always easy to motivate your people to change so here are some tips on how to go about engaging people:
- Understand what motivates your audience when pitching for why your business should be taking their impact on the environment more seriously. Think about what the benefits are for the company, the returns on investments, the risks of not acting but most importantly – don’t be afraid to say it’s the right thing to do.
- Make sustainability more personal and relatable to all employees. Get everyone in your company to draft an ‘individual action plan’. What three things can we do as individuals to be better?
- Some of our members found that setting up an eco-committee was a great way to bring together different job functions and seniority levels across the business.
- Why not take it one step further and have sustainability objectives be part of everyone’s job function?
Where to start on certification
There are so many different certification schemes that it’s hard to know where to focus your time. It’s important for SMEs to focus on what certification would bring your business the most value:
- Look at what other companies in your industry have, as it’s a good indicator of what you might need as well.
- Some certification schemes have commitments within them, so it may be helpful if you want to reach a certain environmental goal. Make sure you know what support is on offer to you after you’re certified.
- Some of our members have chosen to take B Corp as a certification as it looks at a wide range of environmental and social impacts.
- Other members are interested in making science based targets – our resource on SBTIs for SMEs gives more guidance.
Advice on carbon offsetting
You should consider offsetting to be a step on your journey to reaching net zero, and always keep focused on reducing your carbon emissions to a minimum. If you’re at the stage of looking to offset your carbon, then you’ll know there are lots of options for you:
- Make sure you understand the difference between carbon offsetting and carbon removals. If you’re working towards net zero, then you can only use carbon removals. Our climate action toolkit helps explain the difference.
- Like any investment for your business, you want to make sure that it aligns with your values. Develop criteria on what you are or aren’t willing to do. For example, one of our businesses works on gender equality so wants to make sure that any carbon offsetting has a positive impact on women. A different business will only offset in countries they operate in.
- Look at the quality of the carbon schemes – aim for accredited schemes that are Gold Standard or Verra accredited. A portfolio approach may give you the biggest impact for your investments.
- Don’t forget that there are many benefits to carbon offset and carbon removal schemes, it’s not only a focus on carbon emissions. There can be other positive impacts such as a positive impact on the local community, gender equality, improved air quality, improved education and nutrition. It’s another way that businesses can give back to people and planet.
If you found these tips useful, come along to our next surgery session! Join our Foundations for Responsible Business programme to get invited to the next one.