Planning Needed for Sustainability Communications
There are a variety of ways to measure the success of an organization – its financial health, its longevity through good times and bad, the strength of its leadership, the loyalty of its customers….but in recent years, the definition of success has shifted from a purely financial meaning to one that also includes how a business impacts the world around it. Now, organizations are being evaluated by members, investors, customers and the general public on environmental, social and governance metrics (ESG), as well as sustainability goals.
While the push for sustainability objectives is now commonplace, how to communicate your progress can be daunting and confusing. Sharing your plans with your key target audiences gives your organization the opportunity to create a competitive advantage, build your reputation and even motivate sustainable growth. Studies also validate it helps you assert your organization as an employer of choice as a high percentage of the Millennial population evaluate organizations with which they patronize as well as want to work for based on their sustainability and equity programs.
Communicating your sustainability goals and programs, however, can be a challenge. Misinformation, mistrust and lack of immediate benefits make sustainability programs a long-term endeavor plagued with challenges and naysayers. To have a positive impact is very hard, while a net impact is (hopefully) achievable and a negative one is very easy. This means that for every good thing you’re doing, there’s a high chance of at least another one that is not that great. Sharing that you aren’t doing that great is never fun.
AOE is being asked more and more to help guide our clients and the industries we serve in their sustainability communications efforts. Our message to all is that you must have a plan as the stakes are high. No matter the impetus for your plans, it is key that a communications plan is developed that links your sustainability goals with your strategic plan and organizational objectives. Sustainability communications is the act of consciously integrating sustainability in a communication strategy by telling stakeholders about a company’s sustainability goals and efforts. The goal of your sustainability communications plan should be to create a common understanding of sustainability challenges and build trust. It typically starts with a declaration of intent. Then, it is a matter of regularly communicating about the status of the sustainability activities and the progress being made.
NEU – ACI’s Center of Excellence for Carbon-Neutral Concrete recently asked AOE to share in a webinar the best practices we have established for sustainability communications . Our team also assembled an e-book that provides tips and helps jump-start your journey. We invite you to review both and then contact us today for a free meeting about building a successful sustainability communications program.