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Sustainability Understanding Experience

by Oct 6, 2020Employee engagement, SDG Goals, Sustainability0 comments

Why is it important for everyone in the company to understand sustainability?

Organisations can only develop sustainably as long as the organisational culture is defined by sustainable missions, visions and values. A precondition to successfully implement sustainable goals is a specific organisational culture. Besides leadership and communication skills, the right understanding of sustainability is elementary. It is also key for everyone in the company to share the same understanding. Steering the company towards more sustainability represents a process of change and managers, therefore, need to engage everyone in the company. 2030 Builders offers training solutions for companies to help their employees develop. The module Sustainability Understanding teaches what sustainability is about and why it matters to deepen our sustainability understanding. To learn how a company can align its strategy with its sustainability goals learn more in the Strategy Alignment Module.

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To sustainably develop, all business procedures should ideally cover all three areas. However, one-sided developments, regarding social growth for instance, can have a positive impact on others. Important here is that the practices stay aligned with the overall sustainability strategies.

Do your employees understand Sustainability?

Sustainability has become a popular term during the past decades. Although the conceptual term appears often in marketing and political language, only a tiny minority proves to have the right understanding.

Most probably, your employees do have an understanding of the term. However, this understanding might not necessarily be 100% correct, sufficient or simply not aligned with the company’s goals yet. Similar to learning a foreign language effectively, the first step is to assess the current knowledge of your employees. It is the goal of 2030 Builders, to up-skill the employees’ knowledge on sustainability by providing a compact selection of theories, concepts, tools and frameworks on sustainability.

For example, are your employees familiar with sustainable economy concepts like the sharing economy or the circular economy? Do your employees know that it is important to reduce our CO2 footprint? Do they know how they can implement their theoretical knowledge into practical tasks for the daily life? How much do you know about certifications for sustainable businesses? Click here to learn how fairtrade benefits the supply chain and the reputation of your company.

Get in touch with 2030 Builders to receive customised offers and help your employees to tackle sustainable development goals!

How do we define Sustainability?

To understand why sustainability matters it is necessary to understand what sustainability actually is. To contribute to the 17 SGDs 2030 Builders follows the existing definition provided by the United Nations. According to the Academic Impact of the United Nations, in 1987 the UN defined sustainability

“as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

Although the three pillars of sustainability (economy, society, environment) paradigm is not fully explicable in regard of its origin (Purvis et al, 2019), the term addresses present and future implications of human behaviour on the economy, society and environment in general. A practical mindset helps us to better understand how our current lifestyle affects areas mentioned considering future generations. It is urgent to identify harmful practices both individually and collectively to tackle global threats.

To implement real sustainable solutions within companies, employee engagement is needed. Only if we implement sustainable solutions at home with our families and at work with our colleagues, we achieve prosperity in the long run.

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During the COVID-19 pandemics, many companies experienced positive developments regarding remote work. HR managers should take advantage and continue testing the opportunities for developing their employees.

Why a profound sustainability understanding matters

It is highly important to improve your understanding of sustainability because of the pressing need for …

  • environmentally friendly practices in general since global warming is causing severe climate changes around the planet. (Climate Change Mitigation)
  • social development, social equality and social justice because the gap between rich and poor is continually increasing. (Social Progress)
  • a democracy-oriented and resource-based world economy due to the scarcity of resources and risks of geo-political interest conflicts. (Sustainable Economic Development)

While in the past sustainability was not regarded as a global subject, the role of sustainability became a priority of today. Sustainability topics have shaped the consumer’s behaviour. According to Porter’s Five Forces framework, it is argueable whether consumers have gained in their bargaining power.

World’s most valuable brands already adopted their company’s mission, vision, and values in order to meet their customers’ expectations. Take a closer look at how Unilever, Carlsberg or Philips contribute to the SDGs. Can you find your company under the TOP 100 most sustainable companies? This year the Danish company Ørsted ranks as the most sustainable company in the world.

For companies, the timely strategic adoption towards sustainable solutions is key for success likewise the digital transformation. Check out here how the digital transformation of companies contributes to sustainability.

To break down global challenges into local projects the precondition is a more adequate and practical understanding of sustainability. Otherwise, not even the largest multinational corporations would be able to tackle the global challenges. For companies, sustainability matters mainly because of the pressing need to fulfil rising customer’s and thus investor’s expectations. Also, environmental challenges are putting in risk the current way of doing business. In order to stay on the market, companies will more and more face higher expectations regarding sustainability.

How sustainable solutions benefit us

Implementing sustainable solutions in companies is beneficial on different levels. By becoming more sustainable, a company improves its resilience. Especially during crises, the sooner a company implements sustainable solutions, the better it is prepared for deep recessions. Sustainable companies are paying more attention to their external risk exposure. Possible reasons for this can be explained due to an increased number and magnitude of threats during the last decades. Nevertheless, companies are becoming more conscious of their positive contribution to a sustainable world as a positive consequence.

Sustainable companies benefit furthermore from an improved public image resulting in an increase in their popularity as a commercial partner, employer and supplier. A sustainable company embraces a world with more justice, inclusiveness and harmony.

Ecologically, a sustainable company considers resource scarcity as well as the design of the supply chain. In general, considering all three pillars of sustainability a company benefits from various optimisations both internally and externally. The ultimate goal for businesses here is to identify and strengthen positive externalities while reducing and eliminating negative externalities.

A fault confessed is half redressed

Speaking about sustainability sounds often like preaching. It can be challenging to convince employees to change the way they work, especially when the reasons are complex. 2030 Builders stands for inclusive and open-minded policies without prejudices and discrimination. The L&D startup from Copenhagen encourages everyone to step back from the daily routine and take some time for self-reflection. To 2030 Builders teaching sustainability means to empower change wherever possible towards a better understanding of our co-existence. It is everyone’s responsibility to care about our natural ecosystem as well as how we define our society and the frame of our economy. Therefore, it is the company’s mission to explore how to make our lives more enjoyable and fulfilled by becoming responsible for the impact we cause permanently.

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Collective learning is not only fun but it also helps to grow as a team. Especially for complex subjects, it is recommended to work in groups in order to minimise misinterpretations and false conclusions.

Why action is needed today

All in all, employees need to share a common definition of sustainability in order to effectively contribute to the sustainability goals of they company. Not only for CSR managers it is important to consider the meaning and the importance of sustainability. As a whole entity, a company can only set and achieve its goals on sustainability if the right mission, vision and values are aligned with the sustainability strategy and they are implemented in the organisational culture. 2030 Builders helps companies to develop their employees’ knowledge on the subject by providing concepts and tools to turn theory into practice.

World’s most successful brands and recognised certification providers have done the first steps already and it is becoming more important for companies to engage their employees. Beyond a proper understanding on sustainability, it is more important to understand why companies as whole entities should invest in their employees since it is the responsibility of employers to keep their staff prepared for present and future challenges.

Recommended Articles and Websites:

Harvard Business Review – How to Make Sustainability Every Employee’s Responsibility

Harvard Business Review – The Comprehensive Sustainability Business Case

McKinsey & Company – The 1,5-degree challenge

Reuters – Five sustainable business trends to watch for in a critical year

Stanford Social Innovation – Engaging Employees to Create a Sustainable Business

Sustainable Brand Index (Europe)

SustainAbility – Trends 2020

United Nations – Sustainability Development Goals Report 2020

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