5 Steps to green Business Processes – Part 1

Sustainability in action. 

Greenwashing or real change? Green issues and sustainable business ideas are now high on the agenda, and not just among the big players. Read why sustainability will be the corporate standard in the not too distant future – and how you can systematically and sustainably anchor the topic in your strategy and business processes in 5 steps.

Whether discounters are removing certain meats from their product ranges, shipping service providers are advertising CO2 neutrality, or consulting giants are turning the corner with corporate social responsibility (CSR) offerings – it is usually hard to tell whether a company has simply thrown on a green cloak to serve a major trend and thus win the favor of a more conscious, sometimes younger target group. Or whether there is a genuine conviction behind it that something urgently needs to change – change from the ground up. The fact is that many countries already set policies of measurable targets.

Today a trend, tomorrow a general corporate standard

One example is the EU Regulation 2020/852 which is based on the Global Goals. It provides criteria for determining when an economic activity is to be classified as ecologically sustainable. On this basis, it is then possible to determine how environmentally sustainable an investment is. Initially, therefore, this will mainly affect the financial sector and debt-intensive industries, but in the medium term it will also have an impact on all other sectors. Especially since the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and ISO 14001 for environmental management have long been established and certifiable standards with the same thrust, to which companies in the health care sector, for example, already have to orient themselves.

In the future, sustainable corporate management will therefore no longer be just a figurehead, but the universal standard – at least in Europe. In the medium term, anyone who wants to make their corporate processes fit for the future will not be able to avoid deeply embedding sustainability in them. This applies to all company sizes and all industries.

Five steps to “sustainable” business process management

Five steps show you the way to continuous sustainability in your company, below are the first two:

1. Check mindset – create a sustainable starting point.
Sustainability as a spontaneous individual initiative in the company – for example as a marketing campaign to boost sales – will be no more than a brief flash in the pan. Apart from that, attentive observers quickly expose such individual campaigns as greenwashing – not excluding flame wars in the social media channels. In order to promote sustainable action within the company and bring real change, management must clearly set the direction and explicitly integrate sustainability into the company’s goals – keyword: management attention. At the same time, it must appoint responsible people who systematically develop and implement a tailored sustainability strategy.

2. Focus and clearly define goals.
Don’t lose sight of the essentials when implementing sustainability goals! As is well known, decarbonization is only one of the many sustainability goals. In addition, it is important to create equal opportunities as well as healthy and fair working conditions – within the company and, in the best case, along the supply chain. The oceans must be protected, the use of resources for production must be examined, waste must be avoided, and so on. To illuminate all the goals at once in the necessary multidimensionality and to flank them with measures inevitably burdens every organization. And then a sustainability project is quickly shelved. So, before you collect data and develop measures, create clarity: On which sustainability issues does your company have the strongest influence with its business activities? Which are particularly urgent? And: What expectations do your stakeholders have of the company?

The first two steps are already important to make your business processes greener. In the second part of this blog, you will learn about the next 3 points that should be considered, so your company can remain sustainable in the long term.

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