As more organisations adopt sustainability management practices, the topic of sustainability has risen on the corporate and organisational agenda globally. When sustainability as a concept is integrated within an organisation, this presents an opportunity to do things in a different way, including how communications is developed and implemented. And when starting to implement a sustainability framework, it is important to reflect on the fact that you are essentially embarking on change programme; a new way of working and thinking.
Change management with an effective communications and engagement process is part and parcel of any successful sustainability initiative. Communication, which is based on engagement, means that people will understand messages more easily as they feel that they are being listened to, every step of the process. Sustainability communications, in the end, is all about turning high level strategies into manageable, understandable, knowledge bytes that support the delivery of tangible results. In this context, communications plays a pivotal role in integrating and embedding sustainable work practices.
It’s well known that a sustainability communications strategy will identify communications objectives, right audiences, the key messages and channels of communication, such as traditional and digital. When developing your sustainability strategy, you should ensure that all sustainability messaging supports and complements your broader corporate communications. Part of effective communications is the ability to involve people rather than merely sending out emails and bulletins. Sustainability communications needs to create a sense of shared responsibility, where each individual plays a role. Developing a shared agenda, that is owned and driven by stakeholders and provides channels for two-way communication, enables work on community critical issues and supports an organisation’s license to grow.
Through this ‘new’ approach of engagement and developing a shared agenda, sustainability offers a great opportunity to to positively impact your organisational culture, which in turn affects internal stakeholders and has impact on how you manage your relationships with external stakeholders.
You will find that more often than not, sustainability practices work in tandem with people’s personal values. We all want to have a better, brighter future. A cleaner environment and cohesive communities, wherever we live.
Sandra Anani is passionate about sustainability, with over 19 years’ experience. She has dedicated her career to sustainable development and communications.