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16 Methods For Sustainable Business Integration

Image Credit: Photo by Ethical Swag

Original Article: Forbes Business Council

Modern businesses are increasingly prioritizing sustainability initiatives like addressing environmental, social and governance issues, achieving net-zero emissions goals and fostering diversity, equity and inclusion. While each of these elements is vital in its own right, they often exist in silos, creating a fragmented approach to sustainability.

To truly make a meaningful impact and build a sustainable future, leadership teams must find ways to unify these disparate efforts into a single, cohesive strategy. To that end, 16 Forbes Business Council members share their top-recommended strategies for combining ESG, net-zero and DEI initiatives to drive lasting change and a more sustainable future.

1. Start With A Clear And Compelling Vision

If you want to replace economic models with sustainable ones, you have to start with a clear and compelling vision. Establish a cross-functional task force to make sure shared goals are understood and embraced unilaterally. Then, implement a unified reporting system that includes ESG, net-zero and DEI metrics to track progress and demonstrate the interconnected impact of these initiatives. - Nabil Abu el Ata, URM Group

2. Embrace A Circular Economy Strategy

Embracing a circular economy strategy with resource optimization, supply chain revamping, efficient product design and sustainable technologies aids in minimizing environmental impact and enhancing business resilience. This approach fosters cost savings, customer loyalty and a stronger corporate reputation while also benefiting the environment. - Rodrigo Brandao Schiavo, JH333 Financial Holding, LLC

3. Incorporate Sustainability Into The Mission And Decisions

Leaders should embrace ESG, net-zero and DEI initiatives. The company's mission and decisions must incorporate these ideas. Setting clear, quantifiable ESG, net-zero and DEI goals and encouraging cross-departmental collaboration can help teams unite. Sharing successes and discussing these programs encourages alignment and continual growth, demonstrating the company's commitment to sustainability and inclusion. - Kameel Gaines, Rig On Wheels Broker & Recruitment Services

4. Frame Sustainability As The New Digital

If we use sustainability as a lens through which to see things, it could alter outcomes significantly. I frame it by positioning sustainability as the new digital. We can agree that we all rely on digital as a core function today, regardless of department. By building sustainability capabilities in all teams, we harness the power of the entire organization, its staff, partners and suppliers. - Tara Milburn, Ethical Swag

5. Define The Purpose Of The Company

Define the organization's overall purpose and get clear on how each component ladders up to it and advances the organization toward it. When initiatives are brand-aligned, they help the brand build equity and increase the value of the whole entity rather than having siloed initiatives that check the buzzword box but don't create value or market momentum. - Martha Holler, ShinePR

6. Create A Compelling Purpose That Centers Your People

Define a compelling company purpose that unifies initiatives relating to ESG, net-zero and DEI goals and put your people at the center of it all. Our quest to achieve these metrics cannot be done at the expense of humans thriving. This purpose will contribute to addressing these important challenges while also cultivating a culture where employees are motivated by a shared commitment to a greater cause. - Andreea Vanacker, One Million Years Of Joy

7. Seek Organizational Goal Alignment

To unify ESG, net-zero and DEI initiatives, leadership can adopt an integrated strategy. Start by seeking alignment on organizational goals, as well as encouraging cross-functional collaboration and establishing clear communication channels. This approach breaks down silos, fosters shared responsibility and streamlines efforts toward building a sustainable business that addresses environmental, social and ethical aspects concurrently. - Brittany Harrer Dolin, The Pocketbook Agency

8. Hire External Experts

I think the best way is to bring in external expertise to provide guidance, support and action plans to achieve sustainable ESG, net-zero and DEI goals. While many companies have expressed ambitions to be at the forefront of ESG, DEI and other social impact initiatives, they typically lack the internal expertise to create robust social impact programs aligned with their core values and business plans. - Erik Pham, Health Canal

9. Discuss Expectations And Strategies At The Top Level

These key topics need to have attention at the top level, and each should be part of the organization's strategy. As such, ownership ultimately lies with the board. If the board is setting expectations and the strategy that encompasses these three areas, then the initiatives should be cross-departmental and interdependent. - Marian Evans, Elevate BC Ltd

10. Establish Regulations And Incentives

Regardless of the size of the company, you had better create regulations within the organization related to ESG matters. Additionally, within these guidelines, it is advisable to enhance employee benefits, such as increasing paid leave, as a reward for fulfilling daily tasks that contribute to these efforts to give employees further obligation to strive for them. - Karita Takahisa, UNIFY PLATFORM AG

11. Create Initiatives That Contribute To Your Company Strategy

All initiatives should contribute to the company strategy. Otherwise, they will become side projects that won’t become a priority for the company. Plan each industry, starting with answering how the initiative contributes to the overall corporate goals and what other existing initiatives it can leverage or boost. - Gaidar Magdanurov, Acronis

12. Include Everyone When Discussing Your Plan

Pull your troops together. Get everyone at the table to hash out your master plan that covers ESG, net zero and DEI. Make sure everyone’s on the same page, communicating and chasing the same goals. Unify your team under one banner to build a rock-solid sustainable business. - Pavel Stepanov, Virtudesk

13. Create Skills-Based Volunteering Opportunities

Creating skills-based volunteering opportunities that address the critical operational needs of your nonprofit community partners will strengthen an organization and provide engaging opportunities for employees to give back. Having employees engage with community partners that strategically align with the company CSR goals will bring your focus areas to life in a productive and meaningful way. - Katherine Brady, Catchafire

14. Form A Team To Integrate Separate Efforts

To unify ESG, net-zero and DEI initiatives, a company can form a centralized sustainability task force. Comprising leaders from various departments, this team can integrate separate efforts into a cohesive strategy. This approach ensures alignment across sectors, promoting a unified, sustainable business model and fostering transparency and accountability. - Ari Chazanas, Lotus West Properties

15. Unite Initiatives Under A Common Message

Companies should combine DEI, ESG and net-zero initiatives under a "beyond profit- and purpose-driven organizations" message. These initiatives can be used as a competitive advantage if executed correctly. Larger employee cases should be engaged in these purpose-led initiatives. Organizations should also engage their customers to be part of the journey in these initiatives. - Ashish Saxena, Innova Solutions

16. Align Efforts With Your Company Mission And Values

Create a unified vision that aligns these efforts with the company's core mission and values. By doing so, these initiatives become integral to every decision and action, fostering a culture of sustainability and inclusivity. This approach not only streamlines efforts but also ensures that these initiatives are not siloed but, rather, are key drivers of the company's long-term success. - Stephen Sokoler, Journey