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Five Key Principles for Building a Robust Corporate Sustainability Strategy

Whether you are building your first sustainability strategy or revising an existing one, the task can seem intimidating. In this article we have outlined the building blocks to best approach and implement a robust corporate sustainability strategy.

To celebrate the landmark release of Altruistiq’s sustainability strategy, we are excited to share our key learnings and recommendations gleaned from developing and deploying a compelling strategy. 
Whether you are building your first sustainability strategy or revising an existing one, the task can seem intimidating. In this article we have outlined the building blocks to best approach and implement a robust corporate sustainability strategy.

What is a corporate sustainability strategy?

A corporate sustainability strategy is a prioritised set of actions that focuses a company’s near and long term goals on purpose driven impact initiatives that benefit the planet and its people.

Why is it important?

We are at a watershed moment for corporate action. Increasingly, companies and their investors, are recognising sustainability as a strategic priority that involves significant business opportunities and risks. If organisations are not proactively helping to shape the transition to a sustainable future, they risk being uncompetitive and becoming obsolete. 
Indeed the private sector plays a critical part in addressing the climate emergency and abating the warming trajectory. In its 2019 Progress Report, the UK committee on climate change said “it will be businesses that primarily deliver the net-zero target”. This has never been more pertinent. Having clearly defined targets and a strategic roadmap for delivery is the first step in the journey to reducing your organisation’s impact.

5 key benefits of developing a sustainability strategy:

When done effectively, the process of developing a strategy can help to:

  1. Drive engagement amongst colleagues
  2. Identify opportunities, guide resources and direct investment into the most important areas of the business
  3. Engage external stakeholders in meaningful dialogue
  4. Provide an opportunity to review progress and take a fresh look at the risks and opportunities facing the business
  5. Inspire performance by integrating exciting ideas into business priorities through a clear framework and defined roadmap

The 5 primary principles for building a sustainability strategy

  1. Identify your company’s vision, mission and values 
    The first step of the process is to cement your business’s values and identify key issues that matter to your business. Use these issues to inform and focus your company’s sustainability mission. This is a valuable opportunity to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks in your current business model. These can become even more visible by benchmarking against peers and competitors.
  2. Effective prioritisation
    Build a strategic framework which identifies the key areas of sustainability that apply most to your company. This is the backbone to an effective sustainability strategy. A good strategy involves ruthless decision making and focus around what issues are most relevant and pressing to your company. Once you have defined a strong framework, aggregate this framework with strategic priorities. Having arrived at focused priorities, the company should be able to channel investment into these key areas, maximising the opportunity for success.
  3. Collaborative iteration 
    Develop the strategy in a collaborative format, capturing voices throughout the company to ensure a comprehensive reflection of your stakeholders’ interests and commitments. This will not only drive engagement and facilitate thorough implementation, but also enables a diversified approach to building commitments and implementation pathways.
  4. Implementation 
    Define a roadmap of how your goals will be achieved, ensuring that it is reflected in the actual working of the business. A key to success is a robust delivery plan with clearly outlined owners who can take control of the actioning and monitoring of commitments. The best strategies are embraced by cross-functional teams and implemented by the entire organisation, driving business buy-in. Similarly, to increase impact and accountability, commitments should be measurable and time bound to facilitate the reporting of progress in a robust way.
  5. Resilience for the future 
    Develop a strategy that is fit for the future by considering how climate change issues might change over time. This involves taking a wide angled view of your company and the space in which it operates. A good strategy should align with the organisation’s long term commercial and growth goals. If sustainability doesn’t drive business value, it risks being de-prioritised. To deliver performance from your strategy, embed long term trends into your strategy and outline a degree of flexibility to account for the constantly changing business and sustainability landscape.

At Altruistiq we believe that it is critical for every business to take responsibility for improving its current and future impact. The principles outlined provide the building blocks from which to develop a sustainability strategy. However, a well designed sustainability strategy is unique to the company. It recognises and plays to the specific strengths and culture of that company. The time to make bold and actionable commitments is now. We are ready to take action to nurture a healthier and happier planet, are you?

Read our sustainability strategy to discover more about how Altruistiq pledges to champion sustainability in our own operations and beyond.

To find out more about how Altruistiq could support your business in its sustainability transition, drop us a line at insights@altruistiq.com.

Altruistiq provides businesses with the technology infrastructure needed to measure, manage and abate their sustainability impact, through a climate software solution.

Isobel Wild

Growth Analyst