Far too many corporate organizations have "fad" eco-friendly cultures. However, how can we change this and make it something more long-term?
In most corporate organizations, sustainability is a fad. That's because departments monitoring this business area focus on one particular project. However, what if we can change this "fad" and create it into a pillar of eco-friendly culture?
What's driving "Fad" sustainability
Businesses worldwide have become more environmentally responsible. But the issue is that many are only focusing on sustainability as a fad instead of a long-term solution.
The reason for this varies. However, we believe that companies have started sustainable practices because of:
Regulation - Though there aren't global, standardized agreements to regulate corporate sustainability, some countries have instituted eco-friendly laws. For instance, in March 2021, the European Union applied the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), which are environmental rules assigned for financial market participants.
Social pressure - More than a third of global consumers are willing to pay more for brands that follow sustainable practices. Typically, this move is driven by the Millennial generation.
Industry standards - There are over 400 sustainability standards worldwide. Businesses voluntarily adopt these into their processes to achieve accreditation. Organizations like Rainforest and Fairtrade are some examples.
Although this is excellent, it isn't enough. If companies are already achieving better sustainability in their workplace environments and practices, they could turn this into something much more significant. By embedding sustainability in organizational culture, we can help make workplaces more environmentally responsible.
Why is embedding sustainability in organizational culture important?
Implementing environmentally responsible practices from social pressure, industry standards, and regulation is excellent—however, this only focuses on some key areas. Instead, you want to be promoting sustainability throughout the organization, not only through a single, dedicated department.
Far too many business leaders, owners, or sustainability departments lack a clear understanding of how to embed sustainability in their daily decisions and processes. When you do this, and everyone across the board understands the importance of "sustaining" sustainability in the organization for long-term improvements, your positive effects on the environment will increase.
When you reshape or reinforce a culture within an organization, it changes everyone's behavior and mindset. If those involved adopt the culture correctly, more sustainability-based changes or practices will get implemented across the organization.
Creating an environmentally responsible corporate culture
Promoting sustainability throughout an entire organization is challenging. Like any business practice, it must get strategized and applied correctly to ensure maximum effectiveness. There are many approaches to this. However, we recommend implementing the following tips:
1. Build a culture-driven team
At first, it can get hard to transform people into sustainable mindsets. Typically, one individual won't motivate or inspire people to change. To counteract this, you want to build a culture-driven team to deploy this mindset into your organization.
This team will work like any other department in the company. However, they'll work internally instead of looking for external sources of sustainable improvements.
The objective of this team is to discover eco-friendly practices that can get used in the workplace. Once found, comprehensive research must happen to find the "importance" or "why" behind using them.
This information needs to be deployed into the organization's mindset when it is collected. We recommend finding the "why" because it can help other individuals understand the importance of implementation.
Now the importance and strategies have been applied, this team's job is to monitor the results. Make sure they're open-minded, as these practices might need to get optimized to increase their effectiveness.
2. Start educating about eco-friendliness
Unfortunately, some still can't grasp the concept of eco-friendliness. Therefore, you'll be surprised how far a little education can go.
When you have culture-driven goals, make everybody aware: from frontline employees to management. Don't skip anyone; let everyone know about the green practices you want to start implementing.
Educating employees can be difficult. Ideally, you want to keep these efforts light. By not lecturing them about eco-friendliness makes learning about the process more engaging and enjoyable.
The goal of this education is to increase awareness. When people understand the repercussions of unsustainable practices, they feel more inclined to improve their eco-friendliness.
3. Develop culture-based rituals
When a series of understood notions are validated by repetition, culture becomes prominent in an organization. Therefore, you can't stop or slow down the vision of a more sustainable company.
One way to ensure the message stays within an organization is by implementing rituals. Doing this will guarantee that everybody is reminded of the mission, which organically becomes a culture.
There are many ways to use these "rituals" or awareness-raising activities. Whether it's team competitions, sustainability weeks, or communication campaigns, all help remind organizations about the "why" of their culture.
4. Incentivize employees
Creating practical, environmentally-conscious rituals for employees can be fun. However, making these into a competition with rewards can drive the eco-friendly culture even more.
When creating a culture, the "why" is essential. The only issue with this is that some employees might find it challenging to grasp the "why" without a reward. Therefore, if you create these culture-based sustainability practices, ensure the implementers are rewarded.
5. Promote activism
In 2021, Jeana Wirtenberg from the Rutgers Business School said Millennial and Gen Z employees believe that their companies should be responsible for acting on global sustainability issues.
The example given for this suggestion was Microsoft. In their organization, they heard lots of feedback and concerns from their employees about their practices. As a result, they established three sustainability-related goals to reach by 2030: waste-free, carbon-neutral, and water-positive.
Instead of disallowing activism, promote it with open arms. You'll be surprised about what changes individual employees want to bring forward.
By embedding sustainability in organizational culture, we can change it from a "fad" to something long-term.
In today's corporate environment, this is considered important, even essential. Not only for our planet but also for the other benefits that come along with sustainability; increased business, etc.
The most crucial step to making this work is by being a leader. When developing a strategy around creating an eco-friendly culture, ensure it's impactful, reasonable, and easy to implement. When you tick all these key areas, it'll simplify the process of deploying this across an organization.