How To Write Your Company’s Sustainability Policy

sustainability policy

How To Write Your Company’s Sustainability Policy

Every company has a responsibility to act sustainably. But what does that mean? And how can your company go about writing a sustainability policy?

In this article, we’ll explore those questions and more. We’ll start by discussing the basics of sustainability, then move on to the specific steps involved in drafting a policy. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to get started on your own company’s sustainability policy.

What Is a Sustainability Policy?

A sustainability policy is an internal document that clearly defines a company’s approach to managing and improving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Sustainability policies usually combine guidelines, procedures, rules, and expectations for employees and the organization as a whole. The result is a comprehensive document that acts as both a proactive plan for improving performance and a reactive set of instructions for dealing with sustainability-related problems as they arise.

Why Write a Sustainability Policy?

There are many reasons why a company might want to create a sustainability policy, including:

  • It may be required by law or regulation. According to the most recent data, there are currently 25 countries that legally require the company’s issue ESG disclosures. If you operate in one of these countries, you are likely legally required to uphold a sustainability policy in some form or another.
  • It may help your company improve ESG performance. A sustainability policy can be an important tool for setting and achieving ESG-related goals. By outlining specific procedures and expectations, a company can make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to sustainability.
  • It may help your company manage risk. ESG issues can pose significant risks to businesses, and a comprehensive sustainability policy can help a company manage and mitigate those risks.
  • It may make your company more attractive to investors. In recent years, there has been a growing trend of investors considering ESG factors when making investment decisions. As a result, companies with strong sustainability policies may be more attractive to potential investors.

How to Write a Sustainability Policy

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a sustainability policy for your company. The lack of regulatory oversight means companies are largely free to design their policies as they see fit.

However, there are a few best practices that all companies should follow when crafting their sustainability policies:

  1. Seek Input from Key Stakeholders
  2. Define Your Company’s Approach to Sustainability
  3. Identify Specific Goals and Objectives
  4. Outline Procedures and Responsibilities
  5. Set a Timeline for Implementation
  6. Review and Update the Policy Regularly
  7. Communicate the Policy to All employees
  8. Train Employees on the Policy
  9. Implement the Policy
  10. Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Policy

Let’s briefly touch on each of these steps.

1. Seek Input from Key Stakeholders

When it comes time to write your company’s sustainability policy, you will need to seek input from key stakeholders within the organization, including:

  • Senior Management
  • Employees
  • Investors
  • Customers
  • Suppliers

If you’re struggling to identify key stakeholders to involve, consider using an analytic tool like the power-interest matrix. This matrix can help you identify important parties within your company by mapping stakeholder groups according to their power over the organization and their level of interest in the issue at hand.

2. Define Your Company’s Approach to Sustainability

Next, you will need to define your company’s approach to sustainability. This will involve articulating the company’s values, principles, and goals with respect to ESG issues.

To do this properly, you’ll need to synthesize issues raised in your discussions with key stakeholders with both legal requirements and industry standards. Start by long-listing potential issues before moving to a short-list.

3. Identify Specific Goals and Objectives

Once you have defined your company’s approach to sustainability, you will need to identify specific goals and objectives that you hope to achieve through the implementation of your policy. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

4. Outline Procedures and Responsibilities

After you have identified your company’s goals and objectives, you will need to outline specific procedures and responsibilities for achieving those goals. This will ensure that everyone involved understands their role in the implementation of the policy.

When writing procedures and responsibilities, be sure to focus on compliance. You need a hierarchy of checks and balances in place to ensure that people at all levels of your organization are doing their best to comply with the policy.

5. Set a Timeline for Implementation

Once you have written your procedures and responsibilities, you will need to set a timeline for implementation. This timeline should include milestones and deadlines for each goal and objective outlined in your policy.

If possible, try to stagger deadlines so that you can assess and adjust your procedures as you go. This will increase the chances of successfully implementing your policy.

6. Review and Update the Policy Regularly

Your company’s sustainability policy should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. The frequency of review will depend on the specific goals and objectives of your policy, as well as the external environment in which your company operates.

Consider conducting a review at least once per year, or more often if there are significant changes in your industry or the legal landscape.

7. Communicate the Policy to All employees

Once you have finalized your company’s sustainability policy, you will need to communicate it to all employees. This communication should include an overview of the policy, as well as specific procedures and responsibilities for each employee.

When communicating the policy to employees, be sure to emphasize the importance of compliance. Employees need to understand that they are expected to comply with the policy, and that there are consequences for non-compliance.

8. Train Employees on the Policy

In addition to communicating the policy to employees, you will also need to train them on the specifics of the policy. This training should cover topics such as:

Mandatory and voluntary training sessions coupled with frequent communication are effective ways to train employees and raise awareness.

9. Implement the Policy

After you have communicated and trained employees on the sustainability policy, you will need to implement it. This implementation should include a system for monitoring compliance and enforcing the policy.

When implementing the policy, be sure to start small and gradually increase your company’s commitment to sustainability over time. This will allow you to fine-tune your procedures and make adjustments as needed.

10. Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Policy

Once you have implemented your sustainability policy, you will need to evaluate its effectiveness. This evaluation should include both qualitative and quantitative measures.

Some things you may want to consider when evaluating the policy include:

  • How well has the policy been received by employees?
  • What are the compliance rates for each employee?
  • What are the costs and benefits of the policy?
  • What are the environmental impacts of the policy?
  • Has the policy achieved its goals and objectives?

How Sandpaper Can Help

If you are looking for help with your sustainability policy or other environmental, health, and safety compliance issues, Sandpaper can help. We offer a wide range of compliance services, including:

  • Policy development
  • Program implementation
  • Auditing
  • Reporting

For more information on our compliance services, contact us today.

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Peter Caush

Based in Dubai for over 10 years, Peter is the founder of Sandpaperme.com 

A trusted authority on digital marketing Peter is passionate about helping SME’s grow their business in the Gulf region.

When he’s not in the office Peter enjoys playing squash, often more times than his knees can cope.

About Sandpaper

At Sandpaper we have been around long enough to realize the importance of good report writing, research, and design. A thoroughly planned and executed report builds loyalty and trust among stakeholders.

In the 10 years of service, Sandpaper has managed to adapt to changes in both the global and local corporate landscape in the United Arab Emirates.

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