Richard Laverick, Director Corporate Responsibility, ADAS
Graham Meller, Consultant, Buttonwood Marketing
1. Commitment from the top
It is vitally important that senior management is committed to Corporate Responsibility (CR) and that it is seen to be committed, both internally and externally.
If staff do not believe that the company is wholeheartedly committed, the response levels will be drastically affected. Similarly, if customers and stakeholders are not convinced, the initiatives will not be effective and the real benefits of a meaningful strategy will not be achieved.
Too often the responsibility for CR falls between the chairs at the boardroom table. It is important, therefore, for responsibility to be assigned at a senior level and cascaded throughout the organisation.
ADAS has ensured this by creating the role of CR Director.
3. Holistic approach
It must be clear that CR strategy is based on all of the ten principles of sustainability (see www.oneplanetliving.org) covering carbon emissions, waste (see recycling vs landfill report image), transport, materials, water, habitats, culture, equity, honesty, fair trade, health and happiness.
4. What gets measured, gets managed
A corporate statement of intent or aspiration serves little purpose unless it is supported by meaningful data, with measurable improvement goals. Such measurements should ultimately take place across the whole organisation, all locations, all departments and include the supply chain. Any statement that is not supported by genuine data is in danger of being labelled as ‘Greenwash’ which may irreparably damage brand value.
Cautionary note: The imposition of a large number of measurement requirements can have a negative effect on staff. It is therefore advisable to establish baseline data for only the key issues first, and then to expand the programme.
5. Small number of KPIs with impact
In order for a strategy document to be readable, the number of key performance indicators must be kept to a minimum. Therefore, only the most important KPIs should be chosen – those that have the greatest impact on the environmental, social or ethical performance of the business.
A limited number of KPI’s will be less daunting for staff. It will avoid the need for them to prioritise, something that may inadvertently affect operational efficiency.
Similarly, in the process of implementing a CR Strategy it is preferable to look for low hanging fruit first (such as energy consumption and business miles); early wins will help to engender support and encourage greater effort in pursuit of the objectives that are harder to reach.
6. Fit with business requirements
The objectives of the CR Strategy should not conflict with other key business objectives. For example, in an attempt to reduce business mileage, it would be foolish to create a mileage cap. Instead, it would be better to create incentives for mileage reduction.
For example, the form that ADAS staff use to claim for business mileage automatically calculates and reports CO2 emissions per mile for each mode of transport. This helps staff to identify areas for improvement and can be used to generate competition between staff or departments. In addition, ADAS has introduced an incentive scheme for car sharing and another to encourage cycling.
7. What’s the message?
Labelling a document as a CRS Report is unlikely to ensure that it becomes highly utilised. Instead, companies should think about the key message.
At ADAS, we believe that Corporate Responsibility is all about making the future a better place for subsequent generations – it’s not about saving the planet, which will remain whatever happens; its about protecting our ecosystems, we want to be able to look our children in the eye and tell them that we helped to avoid the serious impacts of climate change, to make the future, their future, a better place.
8. Easy to understand (think global, act local!)
The CR report should be written in language that everyone can understand, providing clear statements that link directly to operational practice. It should be aesthetically pleasing – pictures of staff rather than a multitude of graphs and charts.
It should link global problems with the need for local action.
Companies may also consider the development of a separate staff guide that clearly explains how individual staff can contribute to the overall objectives.
9. Staff engagement
The CR report is as much about internal staff as it is about external stakeholders, so it must talk about specific people, processes or locations and it must be fun!
ADAS is currently creating a pocket version of our CR Report. A copy will be given to every ADAS employee so that they will be able to show it to anybody that asks. Furthermore, at the bottom of the pocket guide it will say “Ask me what I am doing to help?”so that every member of ADAS staff will be given the opportunity to explain their role in the fulfilment of the CR objectives.
Reference to employees that have already made an outstanding contribution to the key objectives establishes good practice and inspires others to do the same.
11. External verification
It is vitally important for key features within the CR Strategy and for the Strategy itself to be externally verified by a reputable accredited third party.