As the public’s concern for life on this planet grows, businesses around the world are stepping up to take responsibility for their role in the current state of affairs. They are pledging to change their behaviour and do better for the environment and communities they operate in.
But as non-financial / ESG reports enter the mainstream, newspaper headlines around the world are increasingly calling out companies for greenwashing*. The gravity of this issue is reflected in the seriousness of action against such organisations.
From eco-friendly plastic packaging, fashion green labels and carbon-neutral architecture to green finance and more sustainable airlines, businesses globally are being held accountable for misleading consumers with statements of responsible operations and products.
Companies understand they need to meet the growing expectations of their internal and external stakeholders. They need to communicate to them what they’re doing to become responsible and fair businesses; otherwise, they’re seen as failing to act.
But a meaningful, credible and engaging stakeholder dialogue is only possible when
- it’s rooted in the overall vision and mission of your organisation
- addresses the true material issues, not just the “PR-able” ones
- understands the needs of the different groups of audiences you impact
- acknowledges missed benchmarks and explains a plan for course correction
It goes without saying that communications of your sustainable efforts can only be as strong as your motivation and commitment to change things. The good news here is that no company is 100% sustainable, so you don’t need to convince everyone that you are. You do, however, need to demonstrate and communicate that you know where you need to go, that you have a plan and show the progress you’re making every day.
As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, but don’t forget that they were laying bricks every hour.
*Greenwashing = misleading claims about the environmental practices of a company or the sustainability of a product