Today, consumers, the media, suppliers and NGOs are looking for authenticity and transparency especially when it comes to food. As this trend continues to emerge, companies are moving swiftly to embed sustainable practices into their business strategies. Sustainability is not just about being a good corporate citizen; it is also about creating mutual value for your company and your stakeholders. There is an intrinsic benefit in providing shared value to your business through sustainability efforts that also benefit your communities, the environment, or others in your value chain. The good news? Right now, there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate with industry, outside stakeholders, and experts to help advance the needs of your business. For most organizations, your actions in the area of sustainability are not merely “nice to dos.” They are fundamental to how you do business and have a significant impact on your operating costs, risk mitigation, and organizational reputation. Sustainability has become a necessary way of life for the vast majority of businesses and integral to the future.
Making Meaningful Connections
What I have learned is that many of our sustainability challenges, as well as those of society, are too big to solve alone. Collaboration is an essential ingredient and the foundation for your success. As you begin your journey, it’s important to determine the issues that are relevant to your business, community and potentially your customers – whether it be areas such as water, sustainable agriculture or human rights. You must hone in on what’s important for your respective audiences so your efforts will deliver meaningful results. After that, it’s important to go through a stakeholder mapping assessment to identify the groups that can help you better understand your challenges and make progress. As you’re compiling your list, you can identify where you have existing connections, then prioritize your stakeholders, and look for avenues where you can build and foster relationships. It’s important to give stakeholders a voice for the work you want to focus on and then carefully listen so you understand their point of view and outside perspectives. Stakeholder engagement is no longer optional for businesses, it has become an important way to stay current and relevant in a rapidly changing environment. When done right, stakeholder engagement is about embracing opportunities and managing risks. In the end, you will find these relationships to be impactful and their support will undoubtedly provide lasting credibility to your organization.
"Sustainability is not just about being a good corporate citizen; it is also about creating mutual value for your company and your stakeholders"
Leveraging your Most Valuable Assets
One important stakeholder group to consider is your employees. Your company’s culture is linked to business productivity, recruitment, retention, and your sustainable efforts are a great way to involve your people in the process. Employees who are passionate about their company and its products or services will be your best advocates and help drive and strengthen your brand reputation. Many companies have even developed recognition programs to highlight initiatives implemented and realized by employees. Your organization’s competitive advantage can be achieved by unleashing the power of your employees and recognizing and rewarding their contributions. Without a doubt the best decisions come from diverse groups working together and aligning around a common goal. By working together, with individuals representing different backgrounds and perspectives, the power of collaboration can be unleashed and innovative idea generation will be brought to the next level.
Why it Matters?
Sustainability matters not only to businesses, but to the planet. Nowhere is this easier to see that in the food chain and the production of the food we need to live. The world population is expected to be at least nine billion people in 2050, and therefore there will be an even higher demand for food. How are we going to feed everyone without destroying the planet? What can we do to preserve our way of life and meet the growing demand? What we know is that the challenge is too complex for any individual, company, or even country to solve alone. The world is changing rapidly and we must change with it. Working together with stakeholders, employees, and the communities we serve is how we can all play a part in taking care of the planet for generations to come.