AB Thinks  →  8th November 2021

Making sustainable business ‘business-as-usual’

As world leaders debated climate change solutions during COP26, held last week in Glasgow, we’ve been thinking about how the IC community can best play a role in helping companies to communicate and accelerate their climate actions.

Effective internal communication is crucial for organisations striving to cut their carbon emissions and engaging your workforce will be key to achieving the climate commitments you’ve set out as a business.

Here are six tips to help you make a real impact with your sustainability communications.

#1 Communicate your purpose
Does your organisation clearly communicate its stance on combatting the climate crisis not just externally but internally as well? Authenticity is non-negotiable when it comes to talking about sustainability. And if your organisation isn’t thinking about its impact on the world we live in, it’s not purpose-driven. Employees and customers are particularly suspicious of greenwashing, so make sure your sustainability statements and agenda are backed up by tangible actions. Read more about the four A’s of purpose-driven content here.

#2 Make it creative
Your sustainability messaging needs to stand out – be creative with your internal communications and you’ll see engagement and awareness increase substantially. Whether it’s encouraging employees to reduce single-use plastic consumption or communicating your annual carbon emissions reports, make it visual! Turn your report into a series of short videos for your company intranet or stop people in their tracks with creative animation. Creativity can also be about channels, so think carefully about how best to reach your employees. For example, is there an appetite for a podcast?

# 3 Align your communication
If your employees are interacting with suppliers, customers or the general public, your goal is to have everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. Do your employees know what your targets are and what you’re doing to reduce emissions, so they can confidently participate and relay these goals? A lack of understanding can result in resistance and mixed messaging, especially if your sustainability strategy seems to contradict other business targets. Make time to understand how departments can contribute to your communications and use internal stakeholder feedback to enhance your comms plans. These considerations will support early buy-in and ensure your stakeholders are hearing a cohesive message.

#4 Talk about progress
Sustainability is an ongoing effort, so it’s important to routinely update employees with your company’s latest strides. Integrating sustainability topics into your regular business communications or updates will help to build climate consideration into your everyday workplace culture and keep employees motivated. Releasing data and areas where more improvement can be made will uphold CSR values of transparency and provide authenticity, which is the key to connection.

#5 Engage the passionate
Your company is your employees, so drive change from within the organisation. Your employees are advocates for your brand and, if they’re invested in making your organisation more sustainable, there will be collective accountability to achieve your goals. Seek out those employees who already take an active interest in climate protection, provide them with opportunities to lead then watch as they impact other employees’ morale and actions. And, if you don’t already have a sustainability working group, council or action crew, invite people to participate in weekly or monthly meetings.

#6 Nurture sustainable talent
Besides the benefits to our planet, studies have found that sustainability practices contribute to employee retention, productivity and overall engagement. Increasingly, jobseekers expect a prospective employer to demonstrate its sustainability credentials and want to understand how their role will contribute to its existing sustainability manifestos.  Embed sustainability into every part of your business, integrate it into employee development so that every staff member is clear from the minute they step through the door how they will contribute to the sustainability strategy. Future-proof your organisation by offering a sustainability training programme to nurture talented and skilled individuals who can lead innovation and accelerate change.

We should all aspire to leave our world a better place – and almost every employee wants their working life to have a valuable purpose beyond earning an income. Companies that can align personal values with the best interests of the business and our planet will benefit in the long run.

If you think your organisation could do with some support on making sustainable business ‘business-as-usual’, contact us.