Years ago, Earth Day was a “blink and you missed it” moment – a blip on the calendar of global events. Today it’s a different story. In many ways, every day is Earth Day, and media across all sectors, geographies and issue areas are keenly focused on how policymakers, governments and others are stepping up their efforts to protect the planet. This includes corporations, which are being looked to as a key contributor in the fight against climate change.
For example, more and more consumers are compelling companies to adopt environmentally friendly practices. According to a recent survey of 10,000 people across 17 countries, sustainability is becoming increasingly important in purchasing decisions, especially as consumers see themselves and for-profit companies as primary catalysts for change (Source: Simon-Kucher & Partners). In fact, 85 percent of people indicate that they have shifted their purchase behavior towards being more sustainable in the past five years.
In the U.S., regulatory bodies are also driving added transparency among publicly traded companies. The SEC recently proposed a rule in which companies would be required to disclose information on climate risks facing their business, and plans to address those risks, along with metrics detailing the companies’ climate footprint including Scope 1, 2 and in some cases Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
So as the world’s attention turns to the significant role corporations play in tackling climate change, how should communicators be, well, communicating around their strategies?
Setting sustainability goals is one thing, but supporting them with real, actionable, quantifiable results is critical in today’s highly scrutinized environment. We believe that the best sustainability communications rely on a mix of 1) sharing where your company is excelling or making gains, while 2) being transparent about areas in which you still need to improve. No matter where your company is in its sustainability journey, a thoughtful communications strategy should support your efforts. Below are four considerations when sharing your story – 365 days a year.
Given that many companies are setting long-term goals (10, 20, 30 years), communicators should also think long-term about their communications plan, leaning into the areas where the business operations have the strongest story to tell, while seeking opportunities to address other aspects of its climate commitments as the business itself advances.
Thinking this way about sustainability efforts can highlight how a company is truly a part of the solution, both within its operations and as an overall catalyst for change.
We recognize the corporate sustainability journey is long and will truly never be done. This is why it’s important to thoughtfully communicate progress (and setbacks) along the way. Devising a strategic communications program that complements your sustainability efforts will enable you to build trust, show action, and ultimately be a part of the crucial effort to curb climate change.
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