The latest buzz word heard all around the world. From corporations to countries, everyone is looking to incorporate sustainability as a core aspect within their current affairs. Encompassing everything from Climate Change, Circular Economy, and even Diversity and Inclusion, sustainability affects all parts of our lives, and as we all begin to hone into the importance of embracing sustainable practices within our daily lives, so are most organisations.
With the help of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals, organisations across the world are looking to transform their products and services to become more sustainable. For many, their long-term goals include becoming carbon neutral by 2050 as well ensuring sustainable practices are implemented internally as well as within their supply chain.
Embarking upon sustainable efforts is fast becoming a deciding factor that consumers use to define a company/brand. In fact, it is such a desirable trait that in 2019, UK consumers spent £41 billion a year on ethical goods and services – Clear proof that implementing sustainable practices is not simply a meaningless display. It is a chance for companies to naturally expand their corporate responsibilities to fulfil both the needs of their consumers and the planet.
This is why sustainability is a given! Our society is evolving, and end-consumers are looking for companies to uphold their ESG responsibilities by transforming their strategies to include and promote sustainable practices. Its success is measurable by a shift in corporate mindset, in which all future strategies unconsciously align with their ongoing sustainability initiatives.
However, when a company views sustainability as a gesture, rather than a given, it limits their ability to make impactful changes to their products and services, or even company values. They may see the shift within their industry/consumers but think little of its true long-term benefits.
Unfortunately, some companies would rather take shallow steps towards sustainability, utilising it as a desirable label rather than a platform for change. However, when an organisation’s public stance on sustainability is not matched with meaningful action, companies run the risk of greenwashing.
What is Greenwashing?
It is defined as: “behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”. This is a serious misdirection which would jeopardise the trust that consumers and suppliers have within an organisation.
Greenwashing has become a large-scale national issue, resulting in the UK’s Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) releasing a guideline for business to consider when making environmental claims.
To ensure a company does not fall into the realm of greenwashing, all of claims on sustainability should:
- be truthful and accurate:
- be clear and unambiguous
- must not omit or hide important information
- must only make fair and meaningful comparisons
- must consider the full life cycle of the product
- must be substantiated
After a thorough investigation into the severity of greenwashing, the CMA unveiled that 40% of green claims made online are misleading. This is not only a gross misdirection, it toys with the sentiments of the public as well as delays true sustainability efforts. Fortunately, the extent of greenwashing is slowly being revealed to the public, who are beginning to hold organisations, regardless of size, accountable for its action.
What does this mean for companies embarking on their sustainability initiatives?
None of the above is meant to deter a company from embarking on their sustainability initiatives. Instead these guidelines are there to act as a foundation ensuring the legitimacy of an initiative, surrounding sustainability or sustainable practices, are not lost under the name of a well-known company/brand.
The most important thing a company can do is promote their sustainability initiatives with clearly defined targets and goals, accompanied by timelines and their ongoing/future strategies to achieve it. This transparency is key to aligning all levels of a corporation, including stakeholders, leadership, and suppliers, and encourages meaningful action for change.
So as long as any claims, statements, and facts surrounding sustainability and ESG cannot be misconstrued, or proven incorrect, there should be no reason for any organisation to refrain from developing, launching and nurturing their own sustainability initiative.
How can you ensure that Sustainability remains a Given?
The answer for each organisation may be different, but most will revert to the question: What is the cost of not achieving your goals for sustainability?
Whether you have publicly declared your intention for Net Zero, or are looking to incorporate more sustainability practices within your supply chain network, Sustainability becomes a Given once it is fully acknowledged as a goal that everyone is uniformly working towards. Your strategy for sustainability must become second nature to everyone, from C-Suite to suppliers, and become a strategic component within any future strategies. This has been perfectly demonstrated by Bayer, as stated by their CFO, Wolfgang Nickl:
“Bayer doesn’t have a sustainability strategy, we have a company strategy that has a strong focus on sustainability”
So… How can Supplier Day help?
At Supplier Day, we strive to successfully integrate your sustainability initiatives within your supply chain, forever changing any ‘Gesture’ of sustainability into a firm ‘Given’. We help launch, nurture, and maintain your strategies for sustainability across your supply chain network through bespoke events, specially designed to drive meaningful action and aid in the achievement of your ESG goals.
We know that in order to achieve your ESG goals, alignment with suppliers is fundamental, which is why our virtual events are designed to incite conversations amongst suppliers and leadership, establishing a platform for the exchange of thoughts, opinions and ideas.
Our supplier days ensure your suppliers are equipped with the appropriate resources to effectively champion your sustainability initiatives within their own organisations, as well as allow you to identify and overcome any problems within your supply chain that could hinder your ability to achieve your ESG goals within your allocated timeline.