Three ways today’s businesses can prove they are sustainable beyond net-zero

unfair contracts beyond net-zero

Source: Unsplash/Adam Winger.

Phrases like net-zero, ESG, zero-emissions and sustainability have become buzzwords in recent years, but what do they really mean for a business?

With the UN stating the need to cut emissions in half by 2030, Australian corporations including Commonwealth Bank and Woolworths are all committing to decarbonising their practises, while Telstra recently called on suppliers to cut emissions in its first brand campaign in five years. But we need to move beyond just carbon-reduction to create sustainable businesses.

Today’s businesses need to prove they are sustainable beyond carbon targets. ESG (environmental, social and governance) includes all aspects of measuring authentic sustainability and social impact, and businesses need to have genuine, continuous improvement in all three target areas.

At a global scale, we are seeing a fifth of the world’s largest companies committing to net-zero, but this is only one element of creating a sustainable business. Businesses should look beyond the typical environmental aspects to include governance, social, diversity and equality targets into the sustainability journey.

Embed sustainability into your business structure

These days, it is not enough for businesses to have a stand alone sustainability team — it needs to be embedded into your business structure. For instance, Canva’s recent pledge incorporates social justice, ethical practices and sustainability into its company culture.

Businesses need to look at all levels of their structure; leadership and governance, products and services, culture, communications and operations, stakeholder management, and their role and impact in the community, then ask “can any of these be improved to be better for the planet?”

The intellectual investment globally into defining sustainability is enormous. There is no excuse not to know what the drivers are for creating a sustainable business. From UN Sustainable Development Goals, GRI reporting and ESG standards, there is an abundance of information available. It is time to move beyond the vague-net zero goals and actually commit to making sustainability a core element of your business operations.

Consult experts in the field 

At one point or another in its journey, every business will need to reach out for help. You may be an expert in your business, but you are not expected to know everything about how to implement the best sustainable practices — fortunately there are experts available.

Seeking out advice from a professional in the field is the most effective way to create a plan to reach your net-zero goals, while ensuring it makes sense from an economic standpoint.

Start the B Corp journey

Certified B Corporations (B Corps) are businesses that meet the highest social and environmental standards, with a focus on balancing profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift and refining what success means in business, building a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Becoming certified as a B Corp demonstrates to your customers, partners and other stakeholders that you aren’t simply “greenwashing” but have done the due diligence to become a responsible business.

Certification isn’t an easy task, with the process often taking over a year of significant preparation. This includes creating in-depth implementation roadmaps to meet B Corp’s standards. To the above point, there is help available — B Lab trained  “B Consultants” can make the journey less overwhelming by managing the process from start to finish.

However, a B Corp certification is not the end goal; it is the beginning of a journey towards becoming a more sustainable and profitable business.

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