With climate change and social responsibility being of public interest (and for a good reason), the need for companies to show their dedication to sustainability has never been so important. This trend is not limited to the public sector or just large multinationals – even startups are expected to reduce their carbon footprint, decrease waste and improve their overall sustainability.
With sustainability featuring so heavily in corporate responsibility initiatives, some private companies will only work with businesses that share their sustainable approach and meet their required mandates.
One of the simplest methods to highlight your green initiatives is through a sustainability policy. A sustainability policy outlines your commitment to practices and standards designed to promote environmentally responsible operations within your startup. If you are not convinced your startup needs one, here are some indicators which may make you think otherwise.
How a Sustainability Policy Can Support Your Startup
There is some initial investment required when creating and implementing a sustainability policy. However, the advantages received will be worth the cost. They can include the following:
- Commitment to current environmental legislation;
- Streamlining your startup’s processes, creating less waste and using less energy;
- Creating a glowing reputation from the outset – especially with environmentally conscious customers;
- Improving your standing with potential investors.
The Initial Considerations
There is no standard layout when it comes to creating a sustainability policy – so it can be tailored to your brand. However, as unique as your startup may be, it is essential to include a set of processes for creating environmentally aware systems and processes within your business.
The main questions you need to consider in your sustainability policy include:
- How do you plan to prevent and limit your environmental impact?
- Will you aim to only have renewable energy companies supply your power?
- How are you going to make certain compliance with all relevant green legislation?
- How will you continually improve your sustainability performance?
- What measures will you put in place to manage and communicate the policy?
How a Sustainability Policy Can Help You Commercially
Many companies have sustainable procurement policies. Even consumers have their own form of sustainability shopping habits. While any buying decision will ultimately require you to demonstrate reliability, cost efficiency and competence, there are definite commercial advantages to having a sustainability policy.
If your startup can help contribute to the buyer’s environmental targets, then this can place you in a competitive advantage over competitors. Organisations and consumers are forever looking at ways to improve their environmental impact. Suppose your startup can provide a solution to help them reduce their carbon footprint, give them a way out from being associated with companies that use toxic or harmful chemicals during the production process. In that case, it could be extremely attractive from a purchasing perspective.
Why Community Investment Is Important
It is essential to be aware that sustainability is not exclusively based on production and consumption. Other wider impacts can be considered. For example, the community your startup is situated in and the wellbeing of your employees.
If you aim for your startup to be a major employer in a local area, consider setting up green charity drives or allow your employees to take time out to support local green initiatives. This practice can boost both your startup’s reputation and enhance employee morale. In addition, it is an excellent example of how evaluating the broader context of your environmental impact can lead to better efficiency in your new business – the happier the employees, the more efficient they tend to be.
Reviewing Your Startup Employment Practices
Making sure your employees buy into your green initiatives is vital for it to be a success. A sustainability policy is not just a document. Everyone involved in your startup needs to carry it out.
A great place to start is by considering employee wellbeing. This can form part of your company’s wider impact and should be considered within your sustainability policy. Some of the forward-thinking businesses are carrying out an example of this. They have implemented six-hour days and have found productivity is on the up and seeing fewer sick days.
If you are not sure what is most important to your employees, try asking them. This is a much better practice than simply using an intuitive approach. There is a risk that you will only feature what you believe is best for the business. Allow your workers to take an active role in decision making.
A Final Note
A sustainability policy is best conveyed as a document that you continually update. This will ensure you are in line with the demands of both legislation and any relevant academic insight regarding the environmental impact and any employee wellbeing.
It is worth talking to your suppliers about your sustainability policy to check that you follow suit. Even as a startup, you can set the benchmark to a greener future by leading by example.
Do not forget to post the finished sustainability policy on your website and share updates on social media. By integrating your sustainability message into your marketing, you will achieve the maximum results for the time and money you put into producing a sustainability policy.