Why sustainability goals matter
Sustainability goals are of great value for a company for several reasons. For example, clear sustainability goals ensure that everyone knows exactly what they need to work on, and how. Having that structure makes the entire process of sustainable change a lot easier and faster. In the latest episode of ‘Niet groen de podcast', Nynke Eggen (founder of The Sustainability Club) and Rachel Castillo (Human Rights Consultant) are in conversation about setting sustainability goals and how to approach this as a sustainability manager. As the podcast is in Dutch, we share the key insights with you in this article :).
Having that structure makes the entire process of sustainable change a lot easier and faster.
What to base your sustainability goals on?
Rachel has worked for Sissy Boy as the sustainability manager five years ago. There, she worked on setting sustainability goals with her team. Within this team, they started by having conversations to define their sustainability mission and vision, but also where they want to be as a company in five years' time. They formulated this in two sentences. It came down to taking responsibility for all the products they produced and the impact that this has on people, animals, and the environment. That was quite a broad and bold mission, so they looked at how they could ensure that they can achieve this. They used a risk analysis to see which themes were important and focused on them. That was the start of drawing up the sustainability goals.
How to define your sustainability ‘north star’
Rachel also shared a concrete example of these goals. This example is the sustainability goal on materials. The buying team, design team and the CEO agreed on several targets. One of these targets at that time was 'by 2025, we will source 100% sustainable materials'. This was their ‘north star’: the main target to guide the entire sustainability strategy and efforts. They broke down that target into several smaller milestones. Like, for example, 'by 2024, we will source 75% sustainable materials'. So, every time they went back to where they stood at that moment and where they would like to be in the next few years. They formulated all the objectives SMART. That way the targets are measurable and that works most effectively. An example of a social sustainability goal could be on child labour: by 2024, we want to be 100% sure for 50% of our direct suppliers that there is no child labour present in any of the facilities.
This was their ‘north star’: the main target to guide the entire sustainability strategy and efforts.
How sustainability goals can change your way of working
After setting the targets, a project team was put together from different departments within the organization. This team consisted of the design team, buying team and the CEO. They had a meeting once every two weeks about who would pick up which role to achieve the goals. During that meeting, it was determined, for example, who will have contact with the fabric supplier and who with the direct supplier? It also had to be determined whether the changes would eventually be implemented in the cost price. There is a lot involved in such a process and having people from different departments involved made it a fun process to go through together. This change completely changed the way of working within the organization. Clear communication was very important in this process. Because the goals were set up within this whole process of change, everyone knew what they had to work on and tasks could thus be divided easily.
The 3 main benefits of having clear sustainability goals
We shared this example to illustrate how clear sustainability goals can align the entire team and can have an impact on the entire organization and the way of working. We list the three main benefits of setting sustainability goals:
1. Accelerated progress in the company’s sustainability journey
‘If you are not clear on your priorities and goals, anything could be a priority.’ (Nynke Eggen) To avoid overwhelm and to invite structure, direction and clarity for you and your team, setting clear sustainability goals is an essential skill in any CSR or sustainability professional’s arsenal.
When everyone is aligned and working on the same topics, progress is faster, and you will notice that your company’s sustainability journey becomes accelerated.
2. Positive change within the fashion industry
There is a reason that companies are working on sustainability. Things need to change within our industry. We are all a part of that. Sustainability goals support this positive change within the industry. Setting goals that are aligned with the industry will ensure that the entire industry is moving in the same direction, creating a more sustainable industry together.
3. Good communication strategy
Sustainability goals are a major component of a good communication strategy for your sustainability efforts. Clear and realistic goals give a sustainability strategy credibility, are a great basis for honest communication and can be used in yearly sustainability reporting.
Want to learn how to set clear & actionable sustainability goals for your company? We are launching a training soon where we will teach you how to do just that. More info soon, so watch our socials for updates!
Listen to the full podcast episode on Spotify (in Dutch).