‘Doing sustainability’

1st September 2016

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Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Management ,
  • Corporate governance ,
  • Stakeholder engagement ,
  • Engagement


Nicholas Shires

The fourth most common lie?

I have heard it said that the three most common lies people say to avoid immediate trouble are: ‘The cheque is in the mail’; ‘I love you’; and ‘It was like that when I got here’. I think we could add a fourth: ‘We do sustainability’.

This is what I have heard time and again from chief executives over the past few years. I am unsure whether I hear this so often because the people I speak to are genuinely weaving sustainability into the fabric of their businesses – I certainly know of many inspiring examples – or whether it is because sustainability has now become a business buzzword. Mostly I feel I am not hearing the real story from the right person.

Although high-level sustainability leadership is crucial, I would be more assured about the validity of what I was being told if I were speaking to the person who had put in place the capability and governance that reflect their organisation’s sustainability aspirations. This is when transformation happens. I would glean more insight about the challenges they faced and the solutions and initiatives they implemented to overcome them. I would also better understand how sustainability governance works in the organisation, how deeply engrained the sustainability thinking is, and how committed the organisation is to recruiting and developing its environment and sustainability professionals. It is those conversations where the reality about whether the business really does do sustainability comes out.

My point is that it is the working experts in organisations worldwide that will make the transformation to sustainability a reality. Sure, chief executives will set the culture and ensure their organisation takes the right road, but they will not achieve anything without the work of skilled environment and sustainability professionals. That is where the power of our professional alliance has its impact.

Speaking of those working experts, we are receiving excellent feedback from recruiters and employers about the relevance and value of the new Practitioner membership, which was introduced in June. They recognise what a PIEMA can do and understand how practitioners with up-to-date knowledge can help transform their operations. Practitioner level is proving to be the attractive business proposition we knew it would be and, with more than half of IEMA members boasting PIEMA status, that spells good news for organisations that really are going to do sustainability.

More than half of IEMA members

now boast PIEMA status, that

spells good news for organisations


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