If you're relatively new to a sustainability gig, there is a new white paper out from SDialogue (a sustainability communications consulting firm) that will give you some ideas of how to focus your attention. The team's report, called "Top Seven Sustainability Practices: the Sum > the Parts," suggests seven best practices for any corporate sustainability activity:
- Set sustainability goals and measurement processes: Start with a few and build out from there.
- Get stakeholders engaged: Notice that I did not use the much more wishy-washy verb, "involved."
- Map sustainability issues to core business issues: Believe it or not there is an acronym for this called SIM, or sustainability issues map. This as simple as identifying the challenge, why it's a business problem, which partners or divisions have a stake, and how engaging in a sustainability practice could held your company.
- Set up sustainability management systems: The most well-known environmental management system is ISO 14001. Others to consult are the UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.
- Address lifecycles and design activities related to your products: What is the impact of this thing from cradle to grave (or at least its reincarnated form).
- Report on your sustainability and corporate social responsibility activities: There really isn't a standard format for this yet, although there recently has been a push for this. The most commonly used guidelines are apparently the ones advocated by the Global Reporting Initiative. You can also consult Business in the Community and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
- Integrate sustainability principles with your brand principles
The white paper offers up some great questions that will help get each one of these action items under way.