Developing a sustainability committee is useful in achieving a company’s ESG goals.
ESG–an acronym for environmental, social and governance–serves as a structured system for assessing how a company’s activities and policies affect sustainability and ethics. These standards are used by investors, analysts, and institutions to determine a company’s dedication to sustainability and ethical conduct. Businesses that excel in these aspects are frequently perceived as being more responsible and appealing to both consumers and to investors who prioritize sustainability and ethics when making investment choices. Let’s delve into best practices for setting it up easily and ensuring success.
Why Start a Sustainability Committee?
Every company is on the hook to offer practical, achievable, and believable ESG initiatives. Yet public cynicism is growing as well and companies need to be careful to avoid “greenwashing,” such as running ad campaigns showing beautiful rainforests without having actual policies or initiatives for better environmental practices. In other words, we all need to walk the walk, not just talk about it. Green Badger wanted to ensure we were backing up our sustainability claims and making progress on our goals, so creating our sustainability committee was an early step.
Start from Scratch and Make it Organic
Like all companies, Green Badger had to start from scratch when launching the new committee. To keep the process and outcomes organic, our CEO stayed out of direct control, opting only to confirm meetings were taking place, share information and context on Green Badger’s past initiatives, and ensure the committee created concrete outcomes.
Read what Green Badger’s CEO, Tommy Linstroth, wrote in Forbes about developing sustainability programs. “Practical Advice For Leaders To Integrate Sustainability Across An Organization”
The Initial Set-up
Whether or not your CEO is involved closely might be based on your unique situation but you will need to consider carefully who will represent the company. If your company is large, you will ideally have a diversity of representatives from all departments, being sure to include non-executives. Research shows that leadership groups with a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences are much more productive and make better decisions. Your sustainability committee is a great place to put that in practice.
Once you have the right people involved, get regular meetings on the calendar and meet consistently. Green Badger found that monthly meetings with four employees on the committee worked well. Notes were taken at each meeting with the goal of delivering two or three actionable items that employees considered impactful.
Create an Agenda
Use an organized agenda to move the process forward. Provide training on holding and facilitating meetings if you need to. The first few meetings will likely involve a lot of brainstorming, capturing ideas, teaching one another about past experiences, and discussing local opportunities for impact.
Some early Green Badger ideas included composting, researching alternative energy in our areas, wellness initiatives, and local volunteer opportunities. You can read about our composting effort in our Composting 101 blog!
Measure Results And Pull in Leadership As Needed
It’s important to set measurable goals and monitor progress when developing a sustainability committee. Without that, you can’t know if the committee is impacting your ESG efforts. Be honest about the results and if if the committee is stalling, can’t see a way forward, or has questions about scope or costs, loop in the leadership and propose options
And don’t forget to celebrate the wins; make sure your entire company–occasionally maybe customers and the public–know what progress is being made. The more often you illustrate a commitment to sustainability, the more likely it will grow and become a part of company culture.
Developing a sustainability committee gives a company numerous advantages. For one, it helps organizations adopt meaningful eco-friendly practices that reduce negative or increase positive impacts. It also can engage the local community and shareholders by building relationships through good works projects. And there are positive business impacts, too. By improving a company’s public reputation as well as improving employee morale, recruiting, and retention, your sustainability committee could increase sales, profitability, and boost customer satisfaction. It might even be able to cut costs over time, like by using energy-efficient technology, reducing employee turnover, and cutting waste. And finally, a sustainability committee can help a company avoid risk that might harm the organization. In short, developing your own sustainability committee can benefit both the environment as well as your business, and it’s worth the small amount of time and effort needed to get the committee off the ground.