On the 3rd and 4th October Sustain You attended the South Gloucestershire Business Show at the Bristol and Bath Science Park. Over a 1000 people attended the show, and we took the opportunity to survey attendees on areas around "Responsible Business". The survey was a snapshot (so lets not get too bogged down in the science), but it was a useful set of challenge questions to get people thinking.
The Results are in...
It was an interesting result with questions ranging from Governance through to Customer Engagement. So what did we find.
There's a gap between the pack and the top performers.
The top performers are engaging across most topics.
Everyone has similar challenges around board room engagement
The Details and Our Advice
Business Leadership and Governance
With so many challenges in business today, its not a surprise that there was a mixed response around leadership and governance. There is no silver bullet, but we can suggest some key points for leaders.
It all starts with leadership engagement, training, engagement and leadership development.
Don't forget to develop your entire leadership team, sustainability has something for everyone.
Governance, arguably, is the engine room of responsible business if done right. Don't under invest here.
Awareness, Knowledge and Skills
A little surprising that awareness wasn't higher, however sustainability is such a broad topic it hard to make sense of it all. The good news is that awareness of critical environmental and social issues is on the rise, ocean plastic, climate change and modern slavery. However, its really important to link awareness to knowledge and skills. Our key points are.
Awareness is great for engagement, understanding, communication... creating a beating heart.
Knowledge is critical to making good decisions based on facts not passion.
Skills are critical to delivery. Skilled, knowledgeable staff can really deliver, and the double bonus, you don't need inflexible process to bridge any gaps.
Supply Chain, and Customers
This is where the £££ should roll in, and where good responsible business practices can give back to the bottom line. If our respondents gained here, I'm confident that they'd substantially add to the bottom line.
Don't wait for your customer to drive sustainability. Be proactive, just because you've not been told doesn't mean your customer isn't wrestling with the challenge.
Get ahead of the game. If you're delivering benefit, and working with customers and suppliers you're controlling the story in the marketplace. Everyone else has to catch up.
Engage across multiple teams. Not just sales and procurement. How about sustainability teams, marketing and PR. It creates collaborative and beneficial long term relationships.
CSR in the Community, and Communications
Good news, plenty of businesses are donating to charity and community, and they're good at talking about it too. But be careful of the "credibility gap" everyone's a cynic so its worth making sure your CSR strategy meets expectations in all parts of your business and supply chain.
Your strategy must link back to your business and communities (business and geographic communities)
Aim for the widest possible internal engagement. Don't focus on beach cleans if 90% of your workforce are nowhere near the beach. It risks looking elitist and out of touch.
Consider what will drive best engagement. People are emotionally invested in their communities, so many small personal contributions might create more impact than a few large donations.
This years survey results show room for improvement, and critically where costs and risks can be controlled and opportunities exploited. Don't be afraid to step away from the crowd, integrated and effective responsible business practices will save you money at worst, and more likely create a more sustainable future for all.
If you want to know more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org