This is how the transformation to a sustainable company succeeds!

Sustainability is becoming a hygiene factor for companies - But how to start?

Sustainability is not only a megatrend, but also a diverse and complex topic. That is why many people and companies do not find it easy to get started with implementation. Demands on companies are increasing, especially from EU and federal government regulation. Sustainability is thus increasingly and urgently becoming a necessity, soon even a hygiene factor.

Sustainability is not only a megatrend, but also a diverse and complex topic (article on Green Economy). That is why many people and companies do not find it easy to get started with implementation. Demands on companies, especially from EU and federal government regulation, are increasing. Sustainability is thus increasingly and urgently becoming a necessity, soon even a hygiene factor.

Regulation from the EU is already increasing the pressure today

For example, the EU taxonomy will initially affect mainly large companies and financial institutions. However, the regulations will be steadily extended to medium-sized companies in the coming years. Further requirements will soon be added, especially with the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in the area of reporting. It is often overlooked that this regulation will already have an indirect impact on almost all companies – at least on all those that apply to banks and insurance companies for investments that require loans. Since January 1, 2022, these companies have to make transparent how sustainable their investments are, i.e. to what extent minimum social criteria and, above all, the six EU environmental goals are affected – negatively or positively. In order to be able to report on this, there is only one way: The financial institutions will request information from the companies in terms of sustainability. Who is prepared for this today?

The new German government is also getting serious

According to the coalition agreement, it wants to make sustainability strategies more binding. The public sector is to set a good example in procurement. In plain language, this means that without an effective sustainability strategy and transparent reporting, it will very soon no longer be possible to win contracts from public institutions. In fact, the word “sustainable” appears more than 100 times in the coalition agreement. This clear focus is truly remarkable and is also reflected in the document’s clear subtitle: “Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Sustainability.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to people in Germany

At the same time, society’s demand for sustainable action is rising – and with it the responsibility for companies to deliver in a binding manner. More and more people are asking themselves how serious companies are about sustainability. Whether in their role as consumers, employees or applicants, this topic is increasingly becoming a focus of attention or even a decisive criterion. After all, according to surveys, three quarters of all Germans state that a sustainable lifestyle is important or even very important to them. In times of public recognition of the climate crisis, this is actually no longer a surprise. But sustainability involves many more issues than just climate protection.

Understanding sustainable management as an opportunity

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the highest common denominator and the framework that companies should follow in their sustainability agenda. They address all key environmental and social factors. In fact, many companies have an impact on several of these goals, these SDGs, at once – be it through the supply chain, resource and material procurement, in their own business operations, through the use of investment funds or in their products. Right off the bat, this is also where one of the biggest opportunities lies: using sustainability as an innovation for product development. Then these investments also serve the future viability of the company – and sustainability no longer becomes a cost factor, but a success factor.

Three important pillars for sustainability transformation

In order for the transformation to a sustainable company to succeed, three aspects need to be considered in particular: Strategy, culture and communication. What are the effective measures in terms of sustainability? Why are we doing what we are doing? How can we make our business model more sustainable? How sustainable are we actually today? These and other questions are the focus of the sustainability strategy. At the same time, sustainable management and action will only work if it is possible to involve large parts of the organization in this cultural change. Ultimately, sustainability does not live through roles such as those of sustainability managers, but through all employees in their day-to-day work.

Inspiring people with the right words

Inspiring communication is the way to reach people. It is important to invite people to experience sustainability through presentations, workshops and interactive formats. At the same time, it is very important to report on successes and achievements, both internally and externally – true to the motto “Do good and talk about it. But in the same way, the next steps on the sustainability roadmap must be emphasized, where the company wants to go and why. This is transparent and makes authentic, honest. Values that are valuable and convincing in the truest sense of the word when it comes to sustainability. Only in this way can sustainability ultimately also become a significant part of the image, of the brand.

Thinking and implementing sustainability holistically

The topic is therefore much more than reports and managers or bees, flowers and trees. Sustainability needs a systematic approach and methodology. This is the only way to ensure that processes, structures and business operations are truly sustainable. This is how the transformation to a sustainable company succeeds.


Author: Daniel Obst (Xing / LinkedIn) | Agentur 2020 GmbH

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