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Initiatives for sustainable organizational performance


Initiatives Performance Architect update 42/2011

Continuing the exploration of ways for organizations to do more for biodiversity and environmental sustainability, here are three novel initiatives that may be established by any organization:

  1. Adopt a threatened animal species, plant species and habitat. In addition to the donations allocated to programs dedicated to their protection, such an approach would also raise awareness with both internal and external stakeholders. It would have a motivational factor for staff, knowing that through their work they do something for giving back to the environment. Thus, the company sponsored animal species and company sponsored plant would be symbols of organizational concerns towards the environment and complement their business driven role.
  2. Launch of a product or service with all profits generated through its sales donated to non-profits running programs focused on sustainability issues. A number of such examples already exist, with proceeds dedicated to humanitarian or research causes. Dedicating such an initiative to environmental causes, would complement the emphasis put on Corporate Social Responsibility.
  3. Donate 1% of revenues to environmental causes. Established in 2002, 1% for the Planet is a not-profit organization that has established a network of over 1,400 companies across 44 countries willing to allocate at least 1% of revenues (top line sales) directly to non-profit organizations focused on issues of sustainability. The donations can be allocated to non-profits selected from a list of over 2,600 pre-approved non-profit organizations from around the world. Not surprisingly, most of the companies that have committed to this cause are privately held.

Through such initiatives and similar other ones, organizations can gradually bridge the separation between business and environmental/sustainability issues. Protecting the environment should be seen as part of the business, built in the business model. Success stories such as Interface demonstrate the benefits of such approaches. However corporate environmental initiatives should not be seen as something that is in scope for large companies and market leaders only. Each organization, small or large has a footprint that should be acknowledged and compensated for. A change of mentalities and business models may be necessary for such a transition, enabling smaller, more agile companies to be at the forefront of such a change.

In addition to the organizational level impact, a secondary benefit of such initiatives is at individual level, as awareness in sustainability issues would cascade down from organizational level to employee level, thus being amplified through social networks. Ultimately both individuals and organizations have a footprint on the environment and a shared sense of responsibility should exist at both levels.

Aurel Brudan Performance Architect,

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