Yet again we totally fail to see that ‘sustainability’ is a journey of integrated continual improvement towards perfect quality. The initiative below is doomed to fail as it does not recognise this – there is no understanding of how we are to achieve these improvements – they cannot be delivered by a ‘sustainability manager’ only by ‘systems thinking’ .
Corporate Sustainability is about to Change Forever…Are you Ready?
by Tad Radzinski
Over the past six months, two significant developments have put in motion a chain of events that will likely change the face of corporate sustainability forever. Executive Order 13514, signed into effect by President Obama in November, mandates that government agencies must monitor and report their GHG output and comply with other environmental requirements including the reduction of waste and the use of “environmentally preferable materials, products, and services.” Additionally, the order calls for 95% of all applicable federal contracts to also meet sustainability requirements.
In the private corporate sector, in October, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, instituted the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index, a set of questions to assess the sustainability of suppliers with the goal of conducting a lifecycle analysis and ranking products according to environmental impact. Wal-Mart rolled out the first phase of this project in October, and suppliers are already scrambling to participate in the Index and improve their sustainability score.Between these two initiatives, the federal government with its more than a half trillion dollar procurement budget, and the Wal-mart index which all but guarantees preference to vendors who are implementing sustainable practices across an organization, businesses and organizations of all sizes, across virtually all industries, will soon be feeling the pressure to kick-up sustainability efforts.
What does ALL this Mean for YOUR Business?
Most sustainability watchers agree: these two developments are just a precursor to what is sure to be mandated sustainability targets in the private and public sector. Given that, forward-thinking companies, whether they are federal or Wal-Mart vendors or not, are already incorporating more greening into the corporate culture. From a corporate perspective, as sustainability moves from being an option to a mandate, sustainability will soon provide a key competitive advantage in the marketplace.
So how can the average company get ready for what’s coming? Here’s a short checklist of processes and actions to get you started:
- Hire or appoint a corporate sustainability officer. Like any other critical business function, your sustainable program needs a leader. The federal government agencies are now mandated to fulfill this job function and savvy private companies are doing the same. One caveat: if you appoint a sustainability officer with little or no expertise in the field, make sure he or she receives training or consulting services from an experienced and credible agency (e.g., see the courses and designations by the leading credentialing orgainzation for sustainability professionals, the Institute of Green Professionals).
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