To succeed in the ‘Age of Sustainability,’ environmental managers need more than technical competency: They need to take a more holistic approach to problem solving, create new systems, inspire others to change and communicate better with the outside world. This week we’re off to our Sustainability Conference at Genentech in Palo Alto, Calif., to discuss each of the skills you’ll need to practice sustainability in the business world.
One of the biggest barriers companies often face in tackling sustainability is how they define what it means to their business. This week we’ll discuss how integrative business thinking can break down the notion of internal silos, generate new solutions and promote greater ownership of the challenge. This shift in perspective can be the difference between a system in which you add a scrubber to the end pipe to one in which you eliminate the need for the scrubber altogether.
Eventually the solutions that come from this new analysis, though, need to be translated into formal processes. How do you define the parameters of a sustainability program? How do you measure energy consumption across your supply chain? How do you evaluate your success? We’ll talk about these questions and look at case studies of how environmental managers have developed programs around sustainability that make sense for the kind of businesses they represent.
And since all this activity increasingly involves individuals from other departments, the environmental manager has evolved from the person who says, ‘You’ve got to change this,’ into the ambassador of environmental stewardship. We will focus on communication strategies for inspiring cultural change within an organization and identify techniques for sharing metrics without ‘greenwashing’ the results.
Every time I attend one of our meetings, I learn that real change happens incrementally, within a formalized framework. For those of you who can’t take part in the discussion in California, what steps have you taken to lead your company forward? What skills are you using today to make sustainability a reality within your business?