It starts with awareness. Change is impossible without understanding the relevance and possibilities of sustainable management. The practical conversion takes place after the awareness; how will you implement sustainability? Where do you start? What means do you deploy and how do you create a basis?
The basis of the 'sustainability' subject is getting wider for companies in the Netherlands, as proves research by the BZW (Brabants-Zeeuwse Werkgeversvereniging). Sustainable management is in the top 3 of many priority lists, but how do you take care of it? Incorporating sustainability always means change management, it is therefore fundamental and mostly leads to a hesitant start. This is where we come across the first pitfall; endless talks, discussions and thinking without making concrete steps. It is better to just get into action and start the process.
Those who know their company processes, also know what their impact is on the environment; what raw materials and resources are used and how much waste they create. Make 'more efficient working' a main goal. This often leads to quick process improvements and savings, which motivate you to continue. Expand your knowledge of sustainability, and you will soon notice new areas for improvement. A positive cycle in the right direction has been created.
There is no standard blueprint that paves the way towards sustainability. There are a number of logic steps though, and implementing structure is the first one. Set goals, work on certification and consult with customers. Make this a policy and give your staff members the space to make their own creative contributions. The entire organization is to embrace sustainability; it has to be embedded in the 'hearts and minds'...
In contrast to what most people think, sustainability is not something large departments necessarily have to implement. Just take a look at ASML, one of the world's most sustainable companies. A company with a 5.7 billion Euro turnover (2011) that made the conscious choice to take its responsibility for both the social and environmental part.
A team of only 4 part-time staff members started mapping sustainability. Not by enforcing it top down, but by inspiring, motivating and securing. Sustainability is given a practical interpretation at the departments of the company itself, for example by working with an environment management system (ISO 14001).
It is clear: sustainability does not have to be unnecessarily difficult. It is just a matter of choosing and doing.
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