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Gail Nickel-Kailing, managing director of Business Strategies Etc.

Shades of Green

By Gail Nickel-Kailing

About Gail

A business adviser and problem solver, Gail is managing director of Business Strategies Etc., which provides strategic marketing and business planning services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics that help companies:
• Define their sustainability strategies,
• Deliver a positive, sustainable image,
• Gain credibility, trust and respect, and
• Measure the results of their green initiatives and actions.

Gail is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide range of subjects and brings enthusiasm and a unique blend of experience to the podium. As an industry analyst and journalist contributing to publications in the United States, Canada, India and Brazil, she has covered a number of beats, particularly sustainability in printing and mailing, print on demand, variable data printing and direct mail.

Following a 12-Steps Program to Sustainability

Formal 12-step programs are based on a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction or other behavioral problems. While not following the true form of the 12-step method, the actions outlined in the “12 Steps to Sustainability: How Every Company Can Implement Sustainability to Improve the Bottom Line and the Environment” report are intended to reduce environmental impact and “other behavioral problems.”

According to the authors, Kanal Consulting, “Concerns over climate change among consumers, employees and political leaders are growing. Leading companies too are becoming increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment, and their access to dwindling resources. As a result, many are paying more attention to the sustainability of their operations—as well as seeking new revenue opportunities from a growing number of environmentally conscious customers.

“These companies are realizing that ‘being green’ is not just the right thing to do, but is also an important catalyst for value creation. Whether it’s from reducing energy and materials usage, or selling environmentally friendly products, these companies have seen that sustainability can help their bottom line, and help the planet at the same time.”

The 12 key points in the report are:

• Integrate sustainability into the company’s vision, values or core mission statement.

Companies that have a mature level of sustainability practices are those that have incorporated sustainability into their company’s vision, values or core mission statement.

• Set goals that are specific, credible, measurable and normalized for business changes.

Companies that are more successful in striving for sustainability also set ambitious goals.

• Treat sustainability projects with the same business case requirements as other projects.

Sustainability efforts shouldn’t be just about doing the right thing; they also have to make business sense.

• Let the CEO and senior executives be the key spokespeople, and demonstrate internal commitment.

CEO commitment and communication eases and accelerates the process.

• Establish a strong governance model.

A sustainability program office—generally comprised of one to five people—can help set goals, manage employee communications, interact with external stakeholders, facilitate planning sessions, create and deliver educational information, and report results to senior management.

• Ensure employee engagement.

Successful sustainability efforts depend on the involvement of employees at all levels in the organization, but particularly at the grassroots.

• Drive operational efficiencies.

Begin by evaluating energy consumption and resource utilization.

• Implement technologies and policies to reduce business travel and commuting.

For many companies, especially those in service industries, employee travel is a significant source of indirect emissions.

• Employ product life-cycle analysis to inform new designs.

Life-cycle analysis looks at all the inputs, outputs and waste generated by a product from production to use to disposal.

• Communicate internally and externally.

Communicate with employees through newsletters, intranet sites, blogs, special events and other methods to build awareness and receive feedback at all levels, and in all areas of the company.

• Partner with the supply chain.

Leaders in sustainability are driving their suppliers to create sustainable business practices—in much the same way they encourage ethical and humane working conditions.

• Engage various stakeholders.

Some firms are working with well-recognized environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide their brands with certification and credibility.

Download the full PDF report, “12 Steps to Sustainability: How Every Company Can Implement Sustainability to Improve the Bottom Line and the Environment.”

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