Taking into consideration the preferences of various stakeholders, alignment with company values and business objectives and the tradeoffs between various sustainability attributes will provide a prioritized list of sustainability goals. These goals can then be translated into strategies and operationalized into departmental and functional goals and initiatives.
Once you have selected your sustainability priorities, establishing your starting points – benchmarks – and ongoing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are vital for assessing and communicating your progress. There are already well-established sustainability programs that have measured and benchmarked sustainability performance, hence determining KPIs and measuring sustainability is outside of the scope of this framework. Many excellent resources already exist, including the Global Reporting Initiative, Global Environmental Management Initiative, Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and others.
Congratulations! You’ve developed a strategic, information- and values-based sustainability strategy with input from a diverse set of stakeholders. You’ve operationalized your plan, and are measuring your progress against KPIs. However, having a strategy and measuring your progress is not enough. Transparency is required to meet today’s consumers’ expectations. Sharing your strategy on an ongoing basis through proactive communication is key to building and maintaining trust. You’ve done the hard work. Now get credit for it by sharing your story. Whether that is by simply making information available on a website or conducting a proactive communications program, communicating your strategy is a necessary step to address questions or concerns from interested stakeholders, reassure supporters that you are doing the right thing, and stave off criticism or attacks from others.
Creating a strategic communications program is beyond the scope of this document. Internal communications professionals or external public relations or marketing partners can assist in this very important step.