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Seven Sustainability Resolutions for Business Leaders, from Facility Managers to CFOs

T'is the season for making resolutions!

In case you work for a company and have not made your sustainability resolution yet, maybe this will help.

Just search for your job title below and consider how you can help with your company's sustainability program.

1. Environmental Health Safety & Sustainability Manager (EHS&S): Resolve to broaden the scope of your sustainability program beyond environmental stewardship (please do not call it environmental sustainability) and climate change to include your social and economic responsibilities, even if you personally do not control the response to these other necessary responsibilities. Introduce yourself to someone who is working in those areas and resolve to start the cross-linking process.

2. Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO): Resolve to move beyond issue management, corporate strategy and messaging to help each facility or other "point of presence" establish a sustainability management system based on the soon-to-be-released ISO 26000 (social responsibility standard) and an operational base of ISO 14001 or ISO 9001. Remember that it is not necessary to certify to these standards in order to use them to help make sustainability part of what every employee does every day.

{related_content}3. Corporate Risk Manager: Resolve to include the loss of your social license to operate as a significant risk to your operation and reputation, and involve the EHS&S Manager and CRO as you implement ISO 31000 (risk management standard) and integrate it within your new sustainability management system. All corporate officers should cite the three responsibilities (environmental stewardship, social equity and well-being, and economic vitality of the corporation and the communities within which you do business) as significant risks that need to be treated.

4. Supply Chain Manager: Resolve to work with your suppliers to create a value chain based on sustainability, rather than based on fear that sourcing will be replacing them if they do not conform to a dictum of requests immediately. Your educational resources may want to help the suppliers learn about the development of a functional sustainability management system that will help them help you.

5. Senior Leaders: Resolve to provide the direction to create a performance framework (the Baldrige model provides leading indicators to help drive leadership performance) that will provide the sustainability action plan to implement your sustainability strategy to your facilities and supply chain. You should also include your leadership in providing the resources necessary to maintain the social license to operate in every community within which you do business.

6. Chief Financial Officer:
Resolve to review the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) sustainability framework and use the information to work closely with your colleagues to ensure the economic responsibility of the enterprise -- both at the corporate level and within each community where you are doing business.

7. Facility Managers: Resolve to create your own sustainability management system and align it with the corporate strategy. This blog will be providing information that focuses on the local implementation of sustainability as a means of maintaining that ever-important license to operate. Involve your employees in the planning and implementation of this program. There is an open-enrollment, distance learning course at Harvard University that can help you with this very important task.

These are reasonable resolutions and the tools for addressing sustainability at the facility level are widely available. Many of these tools are already being used in your facilities, but without knowledge that they are useful for sustainability and meeting the three responsibilities that each of your facilities have every day as they seek to maintain their license to operate.

Look beyond the fancy slogans and strategy to find something that will be practical for your operation. Read the blog and share your ideas as we continue to explore the "Five Basics of Sustainability" at the local level.

Happy New Year! I hope you will be able to keep all of the important resolutions that you made.

Robert B. Pojasek, Ph.D., is the sustainability practice leader at Capaccio Environmental Engineering and an internationally recognized expert on the topic of business sustainability and process improvement.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user FeatheredTar.



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