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What’s Your Company’s Unique Sustainability Story?

If your company has become a more sustainable and greener business, you have a powerful and beneficial story to share with your employees, customers, partners and investors. Your “sustainability story” includes your sustainability mission, the commitments you’ve made, the initiatives you’ve completed and the list of your accomplishments. Telling this story in the right way to the right audiences will improve your reputation, elevate your brand, draw in new customers, attract great employees and promote a more sustainable ecosystem around you.  This article describes the approach we recommend to our Green Business Bureau (GBB) members and other companies interested in promoting their sustainability in the right way.

The GBB EcoProfile – Tell Your Sustainability Story To The World

Once your company has documented its sustainability mission, goals, commitments and accomplishments, it is time to share them with the world to earn the benefits you deserve.  It’s a chance to tout your commitment to sustainability and highlight what makes you unique. For our GBB members, sharing your green business profile and story is straightforward and done via the GBB EcoProfile™. This online green business profile is a set of webpages hosted on the public and secure GreenBusinessBureau.com website and managed via a simple online web publishing tool that GBB provides.

The GBB EcoProfile: Best Practices In Action

The GBB EcoProfile incorporates the best practices of leading companies in using the Mission, Priorities/Commitments, Shared Accomplishments & Measurement approach.  We looked at companies like Patagonia, Google, Apple, Burton Snowboards, and King Arthur’s Flour. They all do an amazing job of telling their story in a way that is inspirational, sincere and credible. We’ve based our EcoProfile on the practices that these sustainability leaders use to communicate their sustainability stories.

Your Online EcoProfile

The online Green Business Bureau EcoProfile is made up of three elements:

Green Story

The EcoProfile Green Story section has two elements: your green mission statement and a list of your highest priority sustainability commitments. These commitments summarize your most important sustainability goals and how you will achieve them.

Certification and EcoScore™

The GBB Certification Dashboard is the well-known foundation of GBB’s program. It summarizes your current sustainable business state and progress, and includes  the total number of EcoPoints(™) accumulated by completing various green initiatives in the GBB library, your GBB Certification level (Member, Aware, Gold, Platinum) and your list of completed green initiatives.

Accomplishments

The new EcoProfile Accomplishments section provides an opportunity for your business to proudly highlight its major sustainability accomplishments, including awards and recognition received, participation in 3rd Party environmental organizations, successful completion of major initiatives and commitments, or major ESG milestones like becoming “Zero Waste” or “Carbon Neutral”.

Benefits of Sharing Your Green Story via an EcoProfile™

There are many benefits of telling your green story in the right way.  All of them are very tangible in either soft dollars (brand, morale, trust) or hard dollars (increased sales, lower customer and employee churn). Here are the top ten benefits of sharing your sustainability story credibly:

Increased Transparency & Trust

By sharing your completed initiatives and certification level publicly, you demonstrate your commitment to sustainability openly and create a more trustworthy relationship with your stakeholders.

Universal Understanding

By taking the time to summarize the tenets of your sustainability program and mission and then sharing those publicly, you ensure all stakeholders on the “same page”, i.e. everyone has the same understanding of your sustainability priorities and goals.

Improved Reputation

Companies that are greener tend to be perceived as more ethical, reliable and responsible.

Elevated Brand

Letting people know your business cares about the environment and society will associate “good” with your brand and improve your overall brand identity.  Sustainable businesses are also perceived as being more honest, with higher quality products and services.

Higher Sales

Being known as a green business will attract new customers, specifically consumers and companies who seek out sustainable businesses, products and services.

Competitive Differentiation

Being sustainable allows you to stand out when competing for business.  In fact, it is common today to see requests for proposals requiring sustainability information from competing vendors bidding on a contract.

Stronger Workforce

Employees, especially the younger generation, seek out employers who are social and environmentally responsible.  Being green and promoting this will attract the best employees and enable you to hire exceptional purpose-driven employees.

Improved Morale

Employees care about the environment and want to know the company they work for also cares.  Your employees will be more fulfilled and satisfied knowing they work for a company that is environmentally responsible.

Higher Employee Engagement

Employees enjoy participating in projects, programs and events that support causes they believe in, like protecting the planet.

Purpose-driven Culture

If you are a leader at your company and want to create a purpose-driven green culture,  formally communicating your mission and commitments is the foundation that will help accomplish that.

Start With the Green Mission Statement

The GBB EcoProfile includes a MISSION STATEMENT section at the top of the Our GreenStory webpage.  Companies and businesses that are serious about sustainability often start with establishing priorities and formally writing an environmental mission statement or what we call a “green mission statement”.  A green mission statement becomes the foundation of a company’s sustainability efforts. It provides the organization and its stakeholders with an understanding of what’s most important and what your company can do to protect the natural world and be more socially responsible.   In most cases, your company already has an overarching mission statement. The green mission statement is a supplement – not a new corporate mission statement. Take your normal mission statement (assuming you have one) and consider how that mission can be delivered through the sustainable lens. That is the objective.

Document and Share Your Sustainability Commitments

The GBB EcoProfile includes a COMMITMENTS section following the Mission Statement.  This section is used to summarize  the main goals of your sustainability program via a list of prioritized commitments.  It can include commitments related to being more energy efficient, reducing waste, reducing your carbon footprint, minimizing pollution, eliminating plastic, changing how you manufacture, and sourcing from other sustainable companies.

It’s important to note that your commitments should always be ‘in support of’ and ‘add specificity’ to your green mission statement.  After all, you’re telling a holistic story about your journey and program.  All the pieces need to be tied together.  Here are some commitment areas to consider that you are  most likely also considering in your sustainability strategy and mission statement:

The commitments you communicate should be focused on the primary sustainability drivers for your industry and company. They should be the most impactful initiatives after analyzing your operations, materials, manufacturing, products, services, business functions, supply chain, policies and procedures.

Align Your Commitments With Your Executive Imperatives

If you own populating your GBB EcoProfile or sustainability webpage on your corporate website, be sure to work with your executive team and green team to  ensure your public statements and commitments are aligned with the company’s mission and goals. When describing your commitments, be sure to be succinct but specific. Describe the goal and how exactly you will achieve it. The commitments need to be sincere, achievable and in your realm of control.  If you are a GBB member, pick your top ones and include them in your public GBB EcoProfile with the highest priority initiative being listed first. Remember, this is your public profile viewed by employees and customers, so be sure to be honest and realistic.

Share Your Accomplishments with the World

The GBB EcoProfile includes an ACCOMPLISHMENTS  webpage to share your green journey progress as it happens.  This section is used to communicate everything you’re most proud of including awards, important events, milestones and company accomplishments. It’s also a chance to recognize achievements by teams and individuals.  It’s a great way to engage employees and customers by sharing awards, pictures, quotes, and videos.  It’s also a great way to celebrate success and add color, passion, and detail to your sustainability story.  Your accomplishments are likely noteworthy and impressive, elevating your brand.  The EcoProfile Accomplishments webpage  will be discussed in more detail in an upcoming blog.

Share Your Green Business Certification and EcoScore

The GBB EcoProfile includes a CERTIFICATION webpage which lists your EcoScore, level and completed initiatives. This is essentially how GBB measures and reports your sustainability performance.  GBB’s certification process is entirely initiative based, so your company will receive EcoPoints for each and every activity it completes with more impactful initiatives earning more EcoPoints. Initiatives are organized by the business area they impact, such as transportation or office materials, and further marked by the effort, cost and greening impact of the initiative. This simple but flexible structure ensures your company can easily target and implement the efforts that best suit your company’s needs and opportunities.  You can find out more about the GBB EcoAssessment and certification here.

Summary

GBB provides companies an easy-to-use online solution for sharing their sustainability story in a credible way verified by a trusted 3rd party.  We enable any business to articulate their sustainability priorities and drivers, share their green mission statement and commitments, and promote their improvements and accomplishments as they progress.  Anyone visiting an online green business profile on the GBB website will see what the company is doing to be more environmentally responsible (their commitments) and how they’re doing (their EcoScore, certification level and accomplishments).

Becoming a truly sustainable business is not easy. Companies that address climate change, protect the environment and are socially responsible, should be able to share their success and accomplishments and earn the benefits that come along with being a leader in sustainability. The GBB EcoProfile provides the ideal way to tell that story and be recognized as a leader in sustainable business.

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