October 6, 2022

Staying sustainable during the downturn means grabbing the moment.

You can’t read, watch, or listen to today’s news without hearing about the threat of an impending recession. Whether this recession will pass or not is unknown. But what we do know is that companies Acting as if it had already happened resulting in layoffs and cost reductions. What does this mean for the company’s sustainability efforts? And how can you help keep it as planned? or even better Let’s empower them in this uncertain environment.

We are lasting veterans. A group of experts playing a leading role in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways To contribute and make a difference by collecting our intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital. independent of each company To help the next generation of sustainability leaders succeed We face the challenge of leadership through the recession and share our hard-earned lessons here.

language is important “In times of economic downturn,” said Mark Buckley, former Staples vice president of sustainability and founder of the One Boat Collaborative. Meet leaders where they are. and deliberately link sustainability to the language they understand about business risks and opportunities. This approach will create More ‘sustainable/rebuildable value piles’ for all businesses in good or bad times can’t be ignored.”

A recession may put options on the table that are not considered in normal times.

Keep track of money. Created a business case with a focus on Sarah Severn, who spent more than two decades in a senior role in sustainability at Nike and is now head of Severn Consulting. “In 1999 we were in the middle of the program. Key Sustainability ‘Learning from Action’ Across Nike as the Asian Financial Crisis Comes The key to maintaining a large amount of time and resources is making a business case. And we can clearly demonstrate ROI in terms of innovation or cost savings for every project. The key to flexibility is making sure your program has strong internal purchases. and can withstand economic volatility and problems.”

Trisa Thompson, an attorney and former chief responsible officer at Dell Technologies, recommends starting with the data. “Many studies have shown that companies with strong, focused CSR goals performed better than others during economic downturns. including the recession in 2008 and recovering faster. In addition, long-term sustainability goals drive innovation in the company. This often results in cost savings. Companies such as Dell, Unilever, Walmart and Clorox have reduced costs through sustainability innovations. This includes reduced packaging size. Recycling and reusing materials Sustainable Supply of Materials and Facility Improvement Cost reductions will get the attention of your company’s leaders.”

Dawn Rittenhouse, DuPont’s director of sustainable development from 1998 to 2019, agrees. “Focus on actions where you can put your money to good use. These may not be the most important things an organization should take. But it’s something senior leaders see as helping organizations get through tough times: reducing energy and water consumption through employee initiatives. Better manage the supply chain to reduce waste. and training sales and marketing teams to better engage customers with potential sustainability projects.”

Think Like CFO Kathrin Winkler, Former EMC Chief Sustainability Officer, Co-Founder Sustainability Veterans and Editor-in-Chief of GreenBiz are also suggesting, “I started as a CSO during the height of the 2008 recession. But be clear about what you can and cannot do with what you have. Understanding company finances Pressure and consider projects that can raise funds from the balance sheet rather than the cost and avoid using SWAGs or heartless rewards when people fear their jobs.”

consistent with your board Consultant, Ellen Weinreb, Sustainability Representative and ESG, Founder of the Weinreb Group and Co-Founder. Sustainability Veterans “The role of CSO is evolving and more CFO and board placement will be needed. This was a rarity a decade ago. Misrepresenting ESGs is similar to balance sheets and income statements. which can be verifiable, confident, and comparable This means more integrated reporting and placement with the CFO. Board oversight and laying out of board-related governance structures are not only commonplace. but also necessary under SASB and other initiatives.”

Looking forward. “Assuming you have the right strategy and the right team size. Encourage your team to never give up. Take action and deliver measurable results for the business,” said Linnel Cameron, former Autodesk vice president of sustainability and ESG consultant at corporate reform. Go ahead and focus on what’s around the corner. Anticipate the macro forces that will shape companies and the post-recession economy. So you can expertly position your company for recession. The next set of challenges.”

Catch the rhythm. Paul Murray started a sustainability recruiting company called Integrated Sustainable Strategies during the 2008 recession after a decade of sustainability. As Vice President of Sustainability at Shaw Industries and Director of Sustainability at Herman Miller, “What we saw back then and what we saw now was a recession as an opportunity to fix it. Despite the layoffs at Microsoft, Netflix and Peloton, our phones kept ringing. We have seen companies striving for initiatives like CDP, SASB increase, TCFD — all having an impact on the net increase in jobs.”

All of this requires civil society organizations to know their business and leadership, according to Bart Alexander, former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors, helping companies. To lead sustainable change through Alexander & Associates and climate change action through Plan C consultants. “Understand the drivers of your business and build trusting relationships with leadership team members. yours Then in good and bad times Your expertise will be valuable as you guide strategies for a more sustainable, low-carbon organization.”

Alexander continued: “The recession may have placed options on the table that were not considered in normal times. Seize opportunities for more important redesigns.”

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