How to create a sustainability mindset

Learn the first steps to creating a sustainability mindset.

Sustainability is the new buzzword, but what does it mean and how do we achieve it? Wikipedia defines sustainability as a process of change in resources, investment and technology to foster continuous improvement in social, environmental and economic needs. Sustainability is beneficial to us all, because it allows organizations to streamline processes so that we can achieve more in less time, with fewer resources and wastage. We can achieve this by questioning and redefining our old processes.

But, how do we create this sustainability mindset and where do we start? We need to take a step back and revisit how we view sustainability. Here are some first steps:

1. Start at the top

Every employee of the company should be engaged in reviewing and redefining existing processes. This communication should be fostered and practiced from the top down; executives must become champions of sustainability. When it's practiced and championed from the top, it will permeate the organization.

2. Foster continuous communication

Celebrate and communicate change throughout the organization. Keep employees informed of change initiatives and outcomes. Frequent announcements of change initiatives will create a culture that decreases employee resistance and anxiety to adopt and embrace change. Report sustainability initiatives and successes across the organization.

3. Build sustainability into the strategic plan

This sets the direction and solidifies the message that sustainability is important to the organization. Ensure that improvements are monitored, measured and rewarded during the annual performance review.  Managers should be accountable to ensure that improvements are ongoing and continuous.

4. Create a sustainability team

Rather than hire externally, build internal teams composed of representatives from all departments. Small sustainability teams composed of champions from each department can create influential employees who not only support the company's sustainability culture, but continuously share sustainability information with their coworkers.

5. Partner with local businesses

Establishing relationships with local vendors forms partnerships. Local vendors work with many businesses and may suggest out-of-the-box solutions on how the organization can streamline processes.

Engaging in these and other sustainability initiatives will recharge, energize and involve employees to adopt a sustainability mindset. This approach will lead to better environments, working relationships and savings in the future.

Keep the conversation going

What are the initiatives your company is doing right now to promote sustainability? Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Wendy Castanha, CPA, CGA, BAccSc

Consultant, DuCa Management Consulting/Professor, Durham College