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How to Design a Sustainability Strategy in Six Steps

Robert Nuttall, who played a key role in the development of Marks & Spencer’s ‘Plan A’ sustainability campaign shares six tips on how to design and communicate a consumer-focused sustainability strategy with MyCustomer.com. Nuttall also was a managing partner at CSR consultancy Clownfish before founding Green Mandate.

Here are the highlights from the article.

Step1: It’s critical to have senior leadership engaged in sustainability to help address the issue of responsibility.

Step 2: Nuttall says you can’t develop a strategy until you understand what impact — good or bad — your current processes have on the environment, communities, and employees. He adds that the core element of any communication in this area has to be transparent, verifiable and measurable, otherwise there is no robustness or authenticity to it.

Step 3: Strike the right tone, Nuttall says. Research shows that consumers are skeptical about company claims about what they’re planning to do so your sustainability messages must be supported by facts and figures including past reporting and future intent, and it has to align with the master brand, he added.

Step 4: Identify your audience and then guide them. Companies should highlight the sustainability measures that an investor might be interested in, as well as consumers, experts and the passer-bys who want to get a bit of a flavor of what the company is doing, said Nuttall.

Step 5: Employees can play an important role as testbed and advocates. Nuttall says engagement with employees is critical since that is where many of the ideas for innovation and savings are going to come from. You can also have employees as advocates for the company by aligning people’s personal belief systems with a company objective.

Step 6: NGOs can lend weight and credibility to your message. Nuttall says third party endorsement or accreditation from an NGO is likely to carry far more weight than whatever the company is saying. Working with NGOs can be positive all round — a win-win, he says.

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