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How to Start a Sustainability Movement in Your Organization: Part 3 Scale by Wendy Firlotte @EngageIntl

How to Start a Sustainability Movement in Your Organization: Part 3 Scale by Wendy Firlotte @EngageIntl

The Challenge: Since the path to sustainability is rooted in local context, creating an overarching corporate program that is also relevant to numerous departments and locations may seem counter-intuitive. How do we create an overarching corporate sustainability program that is relevant to every employee and is implementable across an entire organization, especially those with diverse departments, services and geographic locations? How could we implement programming that would be relevant to office, laboratory, retail and field-based settings or perhaps in operations located in New York City, New Delhi and in a small rural town in northern Canada?

Another key consideration when we are thinking through the scope of corporate vs. local, is that the reverse also needs to be considered. How does the program engage employees to directly understand their impact locally on organizational performance? For example, would employees be able to read a sustainability report and relate their everyday actions to the outcomes that the organization reports on? Do employees feel that their daily actions make a difference toward organizational goals?

An Effective Approach: “Strategic Flexibility”: I encourage an approach that I like to call “Strategic Flexibility”. This approach is about finding an effective balance with aligned action between corporate level targets and locally organized events and activities.

What does this mean in action? Companies focus program efforts on their overarching sustainability targets, but provide local autonomy by working with all locations to plan how they will meet the company targets in a way that is relevant to their specific context.

Strategic flexibility is where the “top down” big picture planning, meets the “bottom up” operational insights and practicality. Each approach has advantages, but reliance on only one restricts the potential effectiveness and success of your strategic goals. It combines the strategic alignment of efforts with the business vision, while leveraging local experience, operational knowledge and momentum of existing initiatives. Creating efforts that are strategically flexible builds trust, commitment, enthusiasm, buy-in at every level, and company resilience by creating the space to be responsive to internal and external influences.

How it Works: Whether your program focuses on individuals or teams, create an overarching framework around your organization’s sustainability targets that is clear and relatable to your sustainability reporting. Using the focused framework you have created for guidance, allow local offices to develop their own plans to address each target. Local offices may or may not be implementing the same activities, but they will all be working towards overarching sustainability targets.

Some key elements for implementation:

Local Planning – Encourage the development of a local sustainability plan by involving the entire office/location. Sustainability/Green Teams often only look within their limited group for ideas, champions and resources. Developing a local sustainability plan by involving all employees will open up avenues for participation, discussion, ideas, solutions, collaboration and resources.

Encourage involvement in the process by providing various approaches that appeal to employees’ interests and time commitments. This is an amazing opportunity to build on the momentum of existing local activities, previous success and identify local champions. When it’s time to prioritize and decide on action plans, create space for productive discussion; for example host solution lunches, where you can bring into the fold anyone interested in a specific issue or initiative by discussing solutions to a particular challenge.

Local Support – This sort of “bottom coming up to meet top” approach will be a new concept to many people, so providing ongoing support for planning and implementation for local offices is important and necessary. Having a strong support network for them to move forward will be key. In addition to corporate assistance, creating a community support network of local champions/mentors is also effective.

Networking and Knowledge Sharing – Providing an avenue for discussion, sharing ideas, success stories and advice on lessons learned is an effective way to make offices feel supported and ultimately more successful. Learning from each other and feeling connected as a community working toward a common goal greatly increases enthusiasm and momentum.

Want to learn more?

Watch for the next installment of our 6-part “Start a Sustainability Movement in Your Organization: Part 4 – How to Systemize “ series. We will focus on how to systemize your program, no matter the size, function or structure of your organization or program.

Start a Sustainability Movement Series:

· Part 1: Steps to follow

· Part 2: Building buy-in at every level

· Part 3: How to scale

· Part 4: How to systemize

· Part 5: All in for sustainability

· Part 6: Fostering culture & embedding sustainability

Connect with Wendy om the links below.

Twitter: @EngageIntl https://twitter.com/EngageIntl

LinkedIn: Wendy Firlotte https://uk.linkedin.com/in/wendyfirlotte

Wendy is a Corporate Sustainability Employee Engagement Strategist. She specializes in translating high-level strategy and purpose into aligned and embedded employee action.







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One thought on “How to Start a Sustainability Movement in Your Organization: Part 3 Scale by Wendy Firlotte @EngageIntl

Mar IntroiniPosted on  12:28 pm - Jun 3, 2017

Great article Thanks!, it confirms that individual action is powerful and when institutions fail, citizens need to take the lead and work actively without expecting from the public sphere. The real fight starts at individual level

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