10 Things I Know About Sustainability

10 things I know about sustainability1. Sustainability does not equal environment or ‘green’
That would make it all too easy. It’s actually about meeting the collective needs of social, economic and environmental stakeholders. Regional communities matter. Fish are important and interest rates impact us all. Balancing multiple needs is both a challenge and an opportunity.

2. Fifty-four percent of the ASX 100 have sustainability built into their procurement policies
If you’re a supplier, you had better get organised. You’ll soon be asked for your own sustainability credentials. This is exciting, because not every purchase will be based on price alone. Take a look at Wal-Mart’s ‘15 Questions for Suppliers’.

3. Green-squash is a bigger issue than greenwash
Most people don’t willingly engage in deceptive or misleading conduct. Many people will engage in throwing stones at green or sustainable initiatives. All you need is a computer. Be ready for this. Substantiate claims and be considerate of all stakeholder needs. Be courageous.

4. Sixty percent of the ASX 100 are now producing an annual sustainability report
These reports tell suppliers how to position themselves. The level of transparency, description of long term KPIs, use of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) methodology and third party assurance provide more factual information for suppliers than a Lonely Planet guide does for travellers.

5. Joint rulers
CEOs and customers are both king. If the CEO is not on board with sustainability initiatives or causes, either move on or take him/her out to meet customers who are. It can be game changing.

6. Risk and reward
Sustainability has the power to take much risk out of supply chains. It fortifies the quality and impact of chosen inputs. Equally, it offers genuine reward for those that embrace its holistic definition. Cost can be reduced and top line revenue growth achieved. It’s a fact.

7. Metrics matter
Sixty-four percent of the ASX 100 are using metrics to meaningfully report on their triple bottom line performance. The role of suppliers is to help such entities improve on these metrics through improving their own.

8. Tyler Elm
Google this man. He writes superbly about the essence of sustainability. My favourite quote: “The true value of sustainability lies not in what’s written on a whiteboard… but in having a culture of prepared minds.” Gold.

9. Pride
Sustainability actually feels good. When we measured and shared what Australian Paper contributes across Australia’s social, economic and environmental footprint, many employees were amazed. Heads lifted and a genuine desire to continue improving was evident.

10. Your own Top 10
Sustainability is not new, but its application to individuals and entities today is. It’s an exciting space to work in and many people are willing to share their learnings and ideas. Seek them out. Buy the coffee and get started.