For businesses to lead the way on the environmental agenda, sustainability needs to be embedded across their entire organisation, says Hayley Johnson.
Creating jobs and tackling climate change. These are two priorities highlighted by both David Cameron and Barack Obama this month.
Recognising that only the world's greenest economies will be able to compete in the global economic race over the coming years, both leaders have pledged to invest more energy efficiency and clean energy to reduce emissions. President Obama went as far as to state that he was prepared to take executive action if congress fails to act on climate change.
Sustainability is intrinsically linked to jobs and prosperity. And like nations, it is vital that businesses act sooner rather than later in order to remain competitive. Environmental performance is no longer a niche market, it is the new business model and offers companies a strong competitive advantage.
The rising price of energy and raw materials are eating into businesses' bottom-lines, whilst changing customer and employee attitudes are redefining the metrics of value. Even in the face of stagnating disposable incomes, the ‘green pound’ continues to grow as more and more people spend with brands that can demonstrate environmental and social value, as well as price and quality.
For businesses to lead the way on the environmental agenda, sustainability needs to be embedded across their entire organisation. It needs to be built into their company DNA and this is likely to require significant organisational change, which will be radical in many businesses.
In-house sustainability leadership is crucial to achieving this change. External consultants can provide expert strategic and technical advice, but real change can only come from within. Businesses need leaders who understand the need for change, can articulate what that change needs to be and has the ability to inspire others and drive sustainability across the entire organisation.
Developing or bringing these skills in-house at director/senior manager level will also help organisations avoid the trappings of green wash, as sustainability will be at the heart of every strategic business decision.
The Sustainability Leadership Programme from The University of Sheffield and CO2Sense equips directors and senior managers with a strategic understanding of the subject and the practical know-how to embed it across their entire organisation.
It is a six-month project based programme and participants will receive consultancy support from CO2Sense to work on the issues specific to their company and identify a minimum of £5k additional value within their organisation. The course includes six days of classroom based learning and features presentations from industry leaders, including Mike Barry, the architect of Marks and Spencer’s Plan A.
For more information on The Sustainability Leadership Programme please visit www.co2sense.co.uk/leadership-programme