How sustainability is shaped within an organization makes a big difference to the outcome. In smaller organizations, there is often a lack of sustainability expertise on the board, which constitutes a limitation for the development of the work. We asked our sustainability expert, Cecilia Almér, four important questions about how to get the board to incorporate sustainability into the company's strategy and culture.
1. How can sustainability become a cornerstone of the company's strategy and culture?
Strategically, it is essential that the board and senior management understand new legislation, comprehend their responsibility in light of it, and also see the opportunities that exist. If they do, it becomes much easier to incorporate sustainability into the strategy
..we see that cross-functional work is becoming increasingly important.
– Incorporating sustainability into the corporate culture is largely about creating good conditions for collaboration and jointly supporting the company's processes and actions. It builds a strong team spirit when different competencies within the company work together, and we see that cross-functional work is becoming increasingly important.
It is also of great importance to ensure that everyone is counted. If you want the entire organization to work on sustainability issues, the responsibility for these issues must be distributed. You also need to clearly communicate why it is important and how it aligns with the company's strategy. It's about having the right system support where you can work together, visualize your progress, and share insights.
2. How do leaders create the right conditions for their organization and employees?
– We talk a lot about making sustainability part of the business model and including it in everything we do, but that is easier said than done. It takes time, effort, and a change in attitude. The perception in many companies is often that sustainability is a burden requiring extra work. Leaders need to shift focus and see the importance of making sustainability work a motivating factor for more employees than just the sustainability team. This can be achieved through communication and understanding of the big picture, but also clarity in how each individual can contribute.
3. What challenges do you see when the focus for many is currently on reporting?
– It requires effort not to get stuck in data collection and reporting requirements that take up a lot of time, especially now with new legislation. We must continue to focus on the big picture. Consider why we are doing this, what the purpose is, and how we as a company can improve. Then, distribute the responsibility across the entire organization, not just within the sustainability team, to increase motivation in the improvement work. Taking action is usually much more satisfying than reporting, but it is challenging at the same time.
Cecilia Almér, Sustainability expert at Stratsys
4. What are your best tips for moving from ambition to action?
– There need to be efficient processes in place, the right system support, and an organization capable of realizing the ambition. Again, looking at the distribution of responsibilities for the measures to be implemented is important. It must also be clarified who is responsible for the sustainability report; it does not necessarily have to be the sustainability officer. The sustainability team are the experts, and they should focus on supporting actions and efforts.
Would you like to know how Stratsys can help your organization take sustainability work to the next level? Learn more about our tool for sustainability management.