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How to drive sustainability in the workplace in 2019 (and beyond)

  • Publish Date: Posted over 4 years ago

​Greta Thunberg’s impassioned berating of world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 is weeks old but has arguably already become one of the most iconic speeches of our time.

The teenage Swedish activist hit the news when she lambasted leaders for their perceived ignorance towards climate change and was in the news again when she refused to accept an environmental award, saying “the climate doesn’t need awards” and again urging politicians to look at the best available science.

But it’s not just global heads of state that are feeling the heat...

The turning of the tide?

A recent report determined that just 21% of CEOs believe businesses are contributing to global sustainability goals. It also found that less than half of these CEOs agreed that their own businesses are successfully integrating sustainability into their companies’ operations.

Damning statistics, for sure. But that these figures have seen the light of day suggests a ray of light - that attitudes in business are changing for the better.

Are companies now seeing the need for sustainability as part of their environment, health and safety (EHS) efforts?

Indeed, businesses are looking more and more to acquire talented individuals specialising in sustainability. And that presents a growing opportunity for candidates well-versed in this area.

How to excel as a sustainability manager

It’s an exciting time to be employed in a sustainability role. As consumer demand for eco-friendly businesses grows, so too does the desire for companies to meet these needs. Here are some key considerations for sustainability managers to help drive performance.

Be a leader and motivator

The only true way to make an impact is to get the buy-in from your colleagues. When introducing initiatives and driving forward thinking, good motivational skills are key to leading the charge. Show staff members how the policies and sustainability measures will make an impact on the business and the wider environment.

Be a champion for change

On a related note, it can be hard to change peoples’ opinions and approaches. Those that a long in the tooth and have trodden well-worn paths will likely need some convincing as to the seriousness of your role. But don’t let that put you off - stick to your guns and champion your cause. Eventually, as people start to understand the significance of sustainability, they’ll get on board with you.

Show the economic impact

Business is business; that much will never change. If you really want to drive sustainability and environmental change in the workplace, putting a price on it is key. Whether you’ve been able to cut costs as part of your role, or your initiatives have led to greater profit margins or return on investment, report back to your superiors to show just how important sustainability can be to the bottom line, as well as to the wider environment.

Take the next step

Sustainability is undoubtedly one of the biggest growth opportunities for EHS professionals over the coming years. As businesses look to improve their carbon footprints and environmental impacts, sustainability professionals will continue to command attention.

If you’re looking to bring your sustainability credentials to the fore in a new role, take a look at our current openings and vacancies, or get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you in your search.