Sustainability management - Getting the basics right

As more businesses become aware of the sustainability movement and increasing compliance for environment, social and governance issues (ESG) the question of how to manage sustainability is front and centre for many directors.

For 16 years, Crowberry Consulting has provided sustainability consultancy across the UK, along with in company training for directors on sustainability matters. Founder and managing director Becky Toal explains how to get the basics right.

1 - Establishing a Sustainability Policy

Understanding the cultural context of your organisation is the first step to determining your Sustainability Policy. What are the internal and external issues along with the interested parties that can impact on environmental, social and economic performance of your business? Understanding the issues and engaging with interested parties and stakeholders is key to developing your sustainability issues. The Sustainability Policy sets the direction of travel and can include reference to achieving International Standards or use of standards for guidance for example ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Guidance.

2 - Establishing Sustainability Objectives, Targets and KPIs

The board can establish sustainability objectives, targets and KPIs to ensure continuous improvement in sustainability performance. Many companies choose to align these to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but this is not mandatory. There are a wide variety of sustainability frameworks to support business including the Global Reporting Initiative. There are sector programmes such as the SME Climate Hub for carbon management and working towards net zero.

3 - Monitor, Review and Report

Checking progress to sustainability metrics is vital to demonstrate success. A review of the journey on sustainability management can help businesses to apply for awards in the community and to become an employer of choice. Ultimately, businesses may have to mandatorily report on ESG and sustainability metrics to allow shareholders to judge their investments more wisely.