With the increasing global focus on climate and sustainability, having a sustainable strategy for your business is crucial. Companies need to look further than their own challenges and create strategies that incorporate work on larger global challenges and trends. These issues are likely to greatly accelerate in importance in the future and change how the world works. In order to survive as a business, a sustainable strategy is key, both to ensure growth and a future where all people can co-exist.
Challenges like hunger and poverty (SDG 1 and SDG 2) affects not only the country that experiences the problem, but also many other countries. One example can be drought, hunger, or poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eventually, these problems will force people to flee their hometowns, many with the goal of reaching a European country. This is why we need to think of global challenges like poverty or lack of water as our local challenges. Thus, we need to work together on solving these problems and achieving Global Goals.
Why does your business need a sustainable strategy?
Future customers will have a higher demand for transparency in the production supply chain. Above all, they will require more ethically produced goods and services, and products proving to have a lower impact on the environment and those who produced it. Therefore, in order to maintain a large customer base, companies need a sustainable strategy that is aligned with the SDGs to survive in the future of businesses. The SDGs are the largest global framework we have to ensure that the world we live in will be free of poverty, hunger, and a degraded climate. In order to achieve the goals by 2030, we all need to work together. The combination of these factors makes it crucial for companies to integrate the SDGs into the business strategy.
Many companies still think that going towards sustainability will increase their cost and lower incomes. However, integrating sustainability into the company might actually increase economic growth and at the same time reduce costs. As much as 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for products that are sustainable and ethically produced. What is more, when looking at millennials the number is even higher. By investing in sustainability and innovation today, you will also ensure that your company is relevant in the future.
What does “sustainable strategy” mean?
Sustainability can mean different things depending on the situation and who you ask, but in this article, we refer to the way companies approach responsible practices in their businesses. This is related to the economic, environmental and social issues that connect the business with society. There can be a different amount of emphasis on the three issues depending on the decisions made by the company, from focusing mainly on one to an equal focus on all three.
A sustainable strategy delivers a framework that allows for robust reporting, is uniquely developed for the company based on their strengths and interests, and that engages both colleagues and stakeholders.
How to develop a sustainable strategy? 6 easy steps
A common way to create a business strategy goes as follows:
Vision/Mission/Values → Identifying Issues → Prioritizing → Targets & KPIs
In this process, one does not often consider sustainability until step 4 “Targets and KPIs”. Even though good KPIs can be developed, they largely have an effect on resource allocation and internal changes. For the strategy to focus on economic growth and simultaneously have an impact on the SDGs, identifying which SDGs are relevant for the business and stakeholders has to happen earlier in the strategy process. This might be a time consuming and challenging task, as there are 17 SDGs and as many as 169 SDG Targets to look into.
At 2030 Builders, we have developed a digital tool to make this process both easier and faster than doing it alone. Through our process, your knowledge, products, and services will be central. The process effortlessly allows you to creatively come up with ideas and develop them into a ready-to-implement strategy. In general, there are 6 steps for creating a sustainable strategy from scratch:
The first step of the process should be to take a look at the SDGs and the targets of each SDG to decide what your company wants to work with. By doing this early on in the process, it is easier to align the rest of the strategy with the chosen SDGs and targets, rather than trying to fit in the goals after finishing the strategy.
Align the vision, mission, and values with one or more of the SDGs and target goals. The mission, vision, and values are the reason why the business exists and should include the direction the company is going, and what kind of world it wants to contribute to creating.
Identifying issues related to the business vision, mission, and values. Should your company work with climate action, reduced inequalities, or affordable and clean energy (or any other SDG)? Identifying the issues that are both relevant to the company and the stakeholders is key.
After identifying the overall issues, prioritising which specific issues/areas the company wants to work on create a clear roadmap for the business. When choosing specific issues, they have to be possible to combine, in order to create a framework within which the company can set its targets. If this is done well, a clear and strong strategy is created which allows the business to more easily grow and reach its goals.
Set targets and KPIs that ensure that your company works towards achieving company goals and the SDGs. Targets and KPIs allow for efficient work on reaching the goals set by the company.
Implement the strategy. When all the above steps are in place, what is left is for your company to start using the strategy.
Getting everybody on board
Developing a sustainable strategy that includes clear targets for achieving the SDGs might be a time consuming and challenging task. And this is where 2030 Builders can help out. 2030 Builders has developed a tool that allows your company to develop a sustainable strategy that ensures business growth. At the same time, it provides clear integration of the SDGs in the strategy. The tool will allow everybody in the business to learn about the SDGs, and align the leadership goals with the entire company, which will minimise the gap between the leadership and the employees.
“The Impact Plan provides knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals and I can leave the table with an action plan. The game can help indicate whether there is a large gap between the managements’ strategy for implementing the SDGs and the employees’ view on the issue”. – says Heidi Bøtcher Sørensen, Copenhagen Zoo
The Impact Play process is quick. After only one workshop, the company has developed a plan that is ready for implementation.