As social and environmental issues continue to grow, businesses have gained new responsibilities. Now, aside from making their customers’ lives easier, they should also support a cause. Such is called corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Supporting a cause shows that a business isn’t all about making money. Instead, they want to make money to give back and help build a better future.
Sustainability is another innovation that’s part of a business’s CSR. Since the effects of climate change may become irreversible by 2030, companies are strongly urged to reduce their carbon footprint now. Fortunately, many brands heeded the warning and started doing so way back. Apple and Samsung, for example, have excluded charger adapters and earphones from their brand-new units. This encourages their customers to continue using their existing said devices, helping the companies reduce their production costs.
But did this strategy truly boost Apple’s and Samsung’s sustainability? Does any company that commits to sustainable practices see results? To know if a company’s — including your own — sustainability strategies are working, here’s how to find out:
1. Use Flexible Data Collection Strategies
When you evaluate your strategy’s effectiveness, make sure that you base on the correct data. Evaluation findings are only as good as the data they’re based on. When you design a program, you should also think about the data needed to track the program’s performance.
To identify the data you need, ask the right questions. What do you want to get out of your program/campaign/policies? Use this time to reflect on the concept of sustainability as well. Do you want to cut operational costs or supply chain costs? What about your human resources; will you hire office-based staff or remote ones? These factors matter in evaluating your sustainable practices. Recycling, saving energy, or conserving water alone doesn’t cut it. You need to know the impact of each of your processes because every one of them leaves an environmental impact.
You can collect all your data on a CSR platform. It’s software that lets you track the progress of your social responsibility. You can report your results to your stakeholders, allowing you to prove that your sustainable practices are effective.
2. Collect Information on Processes and Information on Outcomes
With your flexible data collection system in place, evaluate two types of information next: information on processes and information on outcomes. The first one is for assessing the implementation of your strategies. The second one is for determining their effectiveness.
Both types of information are crucial in monitoring the impact of your sustainability practices. You can’t just collect one type of information. That’s because outcomes may indicate that your methods don’t bear fruit, but the processes show inconsistencies in your strategies.
For example, if you vowed to consume less energy in your office, but your bills aren’t reducing at all, there might be a loophole in your processes. Maybe you don’t require your employees to shut down their computers before leaving. If that’s the case, then your strategies aren’t ineffective, just poorly implemented.
3. Consider Key Issues Based On Different Sets of Time Frames
Your sustainable strategies should have both short-term and long-term goals. An example of a short-term goal is reducing costs, and a long-term goal is planting more trees. Before making critical decisions for your strategies, consider the key issues that will affect your short- and long-term goals.
Cash-flow issues may affect your short-term goals, so make contingency plans to curb whatever adverse effects may arise. Liability and other risks, on the other hand, may impact your long-term goals. Make a comprehensive sustainability plan to have those issues worked on.
4. Study How Customers Respond to Your Strategies
Many brands increase the prices of their products when they incorporate social responsibility into their marketing. This isn’t a bad practice because customers are, in fact, willing to spend more for socially responsible brands. If your customers still buy your products even after their prices increase, then it can be a clear sign that you’re on the right track. But you also have to determine if you’re selling to eco-conscious customers.
If you use recyclable packaging, do your customers actually recycle them, or throw them away? If it’s the latter, then you might need a new or additional strategy. Recyclable packaging isn’t much help if they end up in landfills anyway.
5. Consider Your Successors
In time, you’d have to pass down the ownership of your business. So see if your sustainable strategies are fit for long-term implementation. Your successors should continue what you started and improve them.
Sustainability is the new key to gaining trust and customer loyalty. Hence, stay committed to your chosen practices and ensure that its goals are reached. Take no shortcuts in monitoring your progress.