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Sustainability Checklist for Businesses Getting Started with ESG 

As organizations start to focus more on sustainability initiatives, it’s critical to ensure that a few initial steps are taken in order to best meet and achieve those sustainability goals. We continue to see trends in setting ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals revolving around net-zero, nature-based solutions, and DE+I, but what does it take to set these goals? How can an organization accomplish these goals in the roadmap that they’ve defined?  Below is a sustainability checklist that organizations can use to get started with as they work toward setting and achieving their ESG goals.

Sustainability Checklist

1. Integrate Sustainability Teams to Ensure Collaboration within the Organization 

Most sustainability teams within an organization are smaller in nature, with only 2-5 full-time employees. While these teams are small, they partner and collaborate with all functions within the business (finance, marketing, sales, supply chain, HR, and legal) as well as with the communications and investor relations teams to report on the progress made. Having dedicated resources collaborating with the business units in the organization is a must-have when working toward the set sustainability targets, as this team consists of the individuals implementing sustainability initiatives and keeping track of progress.   

2. Conduct Data and Informational Analysis 

Having high-quality, granular data as it relates to the sustainability topics important to your organization is necessary to set and achieve sustainability goals. Whether it’s the energy required to produce the product, the cost of different forms of packaging, or the output of gas emissions related to transporting the products, among others, it all helps to provide quantitative sustainability goals that can be tracked and measured as well as enables better decision-making for the organization. Data and information gathering should be continuous throughout the year, providing the ability to track and measure that data against the organization’s business and sustainability goals.  

3. Create a Sustainability Plan 

Based on the existing data and information that has been discovered by the sustainability team, your organization is now able to create a comprehensive playbook on how exactly to accomplish those goals, including sustainability drivers, key performance indicators (KPIs), and an action plan with responsibilities, as well as how to integrate within the broader organization. Developing a survey to send to employees within the organization on what matters most to them – as well as identifying and establishing the values and priorities of the organization as a whole – is a great way to first get started on developing sustainability initiatives.  

4. Communicate Progress on the Plan and Goals 

To achieve your ESG goals, your plan needs to be clearly articulated by the leadership team and communicated to all employees. A formal launch event when forming a new sustainability plan and goals is an effective way to show commitment from the leadership team and get employees to follow suit. As year moves on, monthly communications to the organization will demonstrate transparency and the ongoing dedication to making progress on sustainability goals. Ensuring the entire organization – including leadership – is on the same page and working together toward your sustainability goals is key.  

5. Review Accomplished Goals 

Annually, the leadership team should conduct a formal review of the sustainability plan and goals. Once goals have been accomplished, input will be needed to set new ones that are attainable by the designated accomplished date. If goals are not achieved, figure out what happened. Were team members not aligned on the plan? Was there an issue in a specific business unit? Were roles and responsibilities not clearly defined? It’s okay if goals are not achieved by a certain date, but understanding the reason behind them is important. Once the root cause has been discovered, create an action plan to achieve the goal and move forward together.  

As your organization works toward setting and achieving sustainability goals, it’s important to remember that this will be an ongoing journey. Referring to a sustainability checklist, such as this one, to ensure that your team is ready to make the commitment to establish and implement sustainability initiatives is a great way to get started. For assistance in establishing a business plan to achieve sustainability and corporate responsibility goals, connect with one of our sustainability consultants today.   

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Tags: Sustainability