Striving for sustainability: The importance of measurable targets
So your company has thought about its sustainability profile and you’ve identified a strategy, goals and actions that make sense for your business. You have your corporate leaders’ support, and you’ve identified the people who will be responsible for championing and driving the initiatives. What now?
Wonderful goals and lots of activity are great, but unless you have measurable targets in place, how can you demonstrate your company’s progress? Establishing measurable targets is a crucial step in the path towards sustainability.
Sustainability targets need to be credible (for internal and external stakeholders) and need to strike a balance between the pragmatic and the visionary. Targets must be achievable, but at the same time, must challenge your company to strive for real and continual improvements. Targets that are too soft can be seen as meaningless, and fall into the realm of greenwashing; too difficult or unattainable, and they can be seen as irrelevant, demoralizing and disenfranchising those striving to achieve them.
One way around this is to choose a few initial targets that can provide your company with an early win or two, while also setting other longer-term targets that demand thoughtful change in the way that your company does business. Some good questions to ask yourself when establishing sustainability targets are:
- Where will action be relevant and be of value?
- Does our company have the ability and resources to change now? In the future?
- Do our internal processes allow us to measure what we need to measure?
- Where will we get the best value for our expenditure of resources?