Every business takes a different path toward sustainability. Maybe you’re focused on reducing your carbon footprint, or perhaps you’re invested in making an impact in your community. Whatever your path, your business is more likely to achieve its sustainability goals if you have a plan.
In 2022, MAYO received its B Corp Certification. During that process, we documented our sustainability efforts to date, and put a lot of thought into the sustainability initiatives we hoped to achieve in the future. If your company is considering applying for B Corp Certification, or would simply like to be more thoughtful about your community engagement and sustainability programs, we have a few tips to help you create a sustainability plan.
Document Your Goals
You’re likely drafting a sustainability plan because you aspire to do more good in the world. But what exactly does that look like? If you’re reducing your carbon footprint, how will you measure that? How long will it take?
A great tool for setting sustainability goals, or any goal really, is to use SMART goals. The acronym stands for:
Using the reducing carbon footprint example from above, the SMART goal might be:
- Reducing fossil fuel energy use for heating the company offices 90% by 2025.
To start, document three to five goals, mixing those that are easy to achieve with one that might be a stretch. These goals will serve as your foundation as you fill in the rest of your plan.
Start With The Easy Stuff
When deciding on the type of work and projects you want to include in the sustainability plan, make sure to document and quantify the work you’re already doing first. How much was donated in charitable giving last year? How many hours were put toward community service? Did you make any investments in transitioning to clean energy or energy efficiency? These should be relatively easy to quantify in hours or dollars spent.
Next, revisit your goals. What tasks need to be done and changes made to achieve these goals? If you’re cutting fossil fuel use for heat, it likely means investing in a clean energy-fueled HVAC system. But for other goals, such as increasingly workplace diversity or reducing waste, the tasks may not be as simple. It may require changing internal processes or the vendors you use. Begin with the tasks and goals that are easy to achieve to keep you motivated toward the more challenging goals.
Hire A Consultant
It can be humbling, but also important to know what you don’t know. Sustainability and B Corp Certification consultants are experts in getting sustainability plans from idea to implementation.
When MAYO launched its B Corp Certification process, we hired a consultant and are so glad we did. She helped us identify the best way to track our metrics and quantify our sustainability efforts. She also helped us think about the hard questions, like how we plan to hold ourselves accountable if we don’t meet our goals.
Expertise like this is well worth the cost.
Incorporate Into Your Business Plan
Too often businesses take the hard work invested in a plan and then immediately put that plan on a shelf. A thoughtful, well-written and achievable sustainability plan should be incorporated into your overall business plan and day-to-day business decisions.
What does that look like?
If going paperless is a goal, do you have the software needed to make the transition? Have you considered educating customers? Have you put these tasks in the annual budget? Planning out each step of the task, how it will get done, and anticipating any challenges will help you go from aspiration to implementation.
Making Sustainability Part of Your Marketing Plan
The final part of writing a sustainability plan is deciding how to talk about the work you’re doing. Part of what we do here at MAYO is help businesses tell their sustainability story, whether that’s launching a new project or celebrating a goal achieved.
No matter the story, businesses should tell it authentically. Share the projects employees are passionate about. Talk about the hardwork and setbacks along the way. This kind of content makes customers–and potential customers–root for you, and ultimately want to buy from you.