It’s not easy being a green brand, but it can be

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By David Campbell, Partner at Brand Rebellion

Internal and external communication is the linchpin of any sustainability transformation. Typical greenwashing words like ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’ ‘sustainable’, natural’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ can be misleading, and messages that brands put out about their ESG effort should include the exact policy, process and impact. Carefully crafted messages explaining exactly what, when, and how commitments are being made can help to reassure customers and employees alike.

Some common questions employees would ask their company on ‘being green’ include:

  • (E) Are we implementing what we say we are?

  • (S) What are our targets for diversity and inclusion?

  • (G) How do we report on the gender pay gap?

Consumers and employees are more environmentally-conscious than ever, so not only is there a lot to gain for a brand to make a positive impact on the environment, but it also provides them with a competitive edge. People will seek to choose brands that are making a genuine difference and can highlight, not hide, their impact.

An example of this is: ‘We believe in taking decisive action to protect our planet for future generations. We are aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2030 through our comprehensive carbon reduction strategy. We anticipate these changes to be substantial and, not only do we expect to meet our carbon reduction targets, but we also foresee a ripple effect, inspiring other companies in our industry to follow suit.’

Staff education, including training programs and workshops around key topics such as transparency, green procurement practices, diversity and inclusion, or linking ESG and sustainability to employee wellbeing, will help enlighten employees about any new sustainability initiatives. Involving employees in goal-setting can help foster a sense of ownership and accountability, which is crucial for navigating the complexities of reducing your business’s carbon footprint. Conducting pilot programs and testing phases are useful tools to help gather feedback and address any implementation challenges before full-scale deployment takes place. Organisations can also implement Employee Resource Groups and committees that are passionate about various ESG aspects to foster buy-in and collaboration.

Funding a sustainable future

Of course, despite all the promises of innovation, the question of financial viability looms large, especially for SMEs. Implementing new carbon reduction strategies – and the training that goes along with them – aren’t cheap.

However, cost savings can be made through reduced energy consumption and operational efficiencies, and enhanced brand reputation will lead to increased customer loyalty and market share.

Plus, in a marketplace where talent is the ultimate currency, investments in carbon reduction are magnets for top-tier employees. Employees are increasingly evaluating employers based on their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies and actions. Investing in carbon reduction can enhance brand reputation, attracting top talent who value sustainability initiatives.

Partnerships are key

Navigating regulatory requirements is a challenge for even the most knowledgeable of business. The complexities of ESG demand a multifaceted approach that must go beyond your own four walls. Research and seek out industry associations and environmental consultants, who can provide invaluable guidance in a time of transition. Do your best to encourage supplier diversity and promote a preference for eco-friendly partners.

When assessing another organisation as a supplier or partner, integrate a review of their ESG commitments and performance to ensure the best fit. Sustainable partnerships are a chance to create unique marketing opportunities, showcasing collaborative efforts and strengthening the brand’s position as an industry leader in sustainability.

Ultimately, businesses that fail to address their carbon footprint today are setting themselves up for serious financial instability over the long term. Ignoring this important issue can lead to reputational damage and diminished stakeholder trust and employee morale, affecting market performance, productivity, attraction and retention efforts.

The good news is that strengthening your ESG arm can actively build financial resilience. Prioritising sustainable practices demonstrates resilience and adaptability, attracting eco-conscious customers and investors who value long-term stability and ethical business practices.

By embracing technology, fostering collaboration, and championing sustainability, businesses can transcend the shackles of short-termism and emerge as architects of a brighter, greener future.


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