Collective Action is Key to a Sustainable Future

While many organizations have already made concrete sustainability commitments, it’s increasingly clear that more needs to be done to expand positive impact and contribute to meaningful change.

The events of the past two years have served to emphasize the effect we’re all having on the planet and our responsibility to it, resulting in a growing need for businesses, policymakers, and individuals to work together, with greater accountability and urgency, to drive a sustainable future for all.

Further, amid the so-called Great Reshuffle, more employees are looking to employers to take action to address the issues they care deeply about – including sustainability. According to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, younger generations rank climate change as a top societal concern. And now, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent proposal to introduce new climate-related disclosures, eyes will increasingly be on what organizations are doing when it comes to sustainability commitments. So, how can businesses ensure they’re keeping pace?

Now is the time for more collective action. We know that greater success can be achieved when companies, policymakers, employees, and customers work together towards collective goals. Below are just some of the ways organizations can build and supercharge a sustainability ecosystem to help scale solutions for long-term, actionable success.

Identify – and share – your own sustainability commitments 

As companies navigate today’s changing world, operating with purpose is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ particularly when it comes to climate impacts. It’s critical to the bottom line, especially as employees and partners want to be associated with companies that are doing right by both the environment and their communities. And more and more, customers are looking at their vendors and suppliers with an equally discerning eye to ensure sustainability efforts align.

To build trust among all stakeholders, it’s essential to clearly communicate company values, share your ambitious targets, and be transparent with all relevant metrics along the way. Whether it’s committing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions within a set timeframe, or joining the Science Based Targets initiative’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C, leading companies are establishing benchmarks that can be regularly evaluated by all stakeholders.

These commitments and transparency not only drive an inclusive culture and pave the way for strong talent retention and recruitment, they will also help organizations meet the requirements of future reporting mandates.

Partner with policymakers, nonprofits, and customers

The world’s climate challenges can’t be solved by one single organization or entity, but require advocacy, partnership, and most importantly, action. It’s important that organizations look outside of themselves and work together to create meaningful impact.

By working with policymakers, businesses can, for example, help advocate for and shape government policies that aid the transition to a low-carbon economy, support an equitable and just transition for workers in carbon-intensive industries, and support the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

But this is just one way to bolster your organizational impact. Companies – big and small – can also work with nonprofits, NGOs, or other like-minded organizations on joint advocacy efforts to increase their efficacy in this field. Organizations could partner with suppliers to invest in utility-scale clean energy, for example. By working together on projects and taking action as a collective unit, whether via monetary contributions, innovation capabilities, or other kinds of support, the scale they can reach together is far greater.

Some organizations are also uniquely positioned to develop or source products that help support their customers in achieving their own climate-related goals. Whether by supplying solutions to customers or collaborating with them to co-innovate climate solutions, these organizations can further strengthen their sustainability ecosystems and help entire industries achieve mutual climate objectives – really moving the needle on scaling positive impact.

Encourage and foster employee involvement

To further enhance your company’s sustainability success, leaders can also harness the shared power and enthusiasm of their employees. By understanding the changes they want to see and what matters most to them, leaders can make informed decisions and help shape the strategy in a way that means most to their people. Research from Workday Peakon Employee Voice tells us how important ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) topics are to employees, with analysis of 19 million comments from more than 1.8 million employees, revealing that ESG was one of the most prominent discussion topics in employee survey comments last year

With mechanisms for real-time employee feedback, companies can identify how their people are feeling, and then drive change accordingly, to nurture a great place to work for all. This has important implications for attracting and retaining talent, particularly when you consider that employees at purpose-driven organizations are three times more likely to stay. And when everyone at an organization feels heard and empowered to drive positive change, you’re more likely to sustain momentum on your sustainability journey too.

No one company can solve the world’s climate issues. But sustainability success can be supercharged through taking collective action now. Whether it’s increasing participation in the policymaking process, applying greater societal pressure, spurring technological innovation, or providing greater financial support, each entity has its role and strengths to bring to the table. And never has there been a more important time to deliver on that.

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