I am not good at networking. I love meeting people and getting to know them, but I am usually so interested in what they do, their challenges and where their business is going, that I overlook the selling my services bit!
Recently, I was invited to attend an event at which I knew very few people. I haven’t managed to get to many networking events lately so my ‘elevator pitch’ is a little rusty. When I am asked what I do the conversation goes something like this:
‘Well, I um run a sustainability consultancy. I help businesses review how their operations work and try to make them better.’ Embarrassed silence and often the person just glazes over and looks around frantically for a way to escape.
What is Sustainability
The trouble is, Sustainability is such a wide topic, covering all parts of a business, so it isn’t easy to wrap it all up in a short sentence. I read a description recently summed it up well:
‘We have also highlighted that sustainability is complex; it’s not just about energy, resources, waste and pollution, it is also about health, wellbeing, tradition and culture. It has a technical side too that encompasses technology, logistics, social and political cohesion. It also requires boundaries and therefore, trade-offs within those boundaries.’ Ref: Sustainability – are you a Leader or a Follower’ https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2018/06/sustainability-leader-follower/
Sustainability at the core
Sustainability is not an optional add-on. If you want your business to be truly sustainable, the ethos has to be embedded in your organisation, part of everything you do and integral to all decision making.
Once you adopt this approach, you will start to look at your business differently. Rather than seeing each part in isolation, it becomes a holistic view. This allows you to evaluate how changing one area or process impacts on the whole organisation.
A few years ago, changes made as part of Operation TLC at Barts Hospital had unforeseen impacts. Simple measures to reduce energy usage were introduced – lighting was turned off in wards at night and doors closed. This was initially an electricity saving scheme, but it was soon noticed that patients were recovering quicker, meaning they were able to be discharged earlier. As the wards were quieter and darker, patients were able to sleep better and thus get better quicker. The change made to reduce overheads led to improved patient recovery and thus shorter stays in hospital which improved patient flow.
Integral to sustainability is the health and wellbeing of staff, customers and suppliers. Where people feel valued and cared for, they will remain loyal, engaged and supportive. Organisations who have placed sustainability at the core of everything they do, have demonstrated they are able to recruit and retain the best staff and they perform better financially.
Sustainability means that businesses are here for the future and are willing to invest and change to respond to demand. These businesses respect the people who work for them, buy from them and work with them. They understand the value of the resources they need to operate. They are often willing to stand up and be counted when they see injustice or mistakes.
A passion for Sustainability
Sustainable organisations are driven by passion that comes not just from the owners and senior managers, but from everyone involved. It is this passion that drew me to sustainability in the first place, but sometimes I am just too British to share these strong feelings.
I am working on a new elevator pitch now designed to share my passion for sustainability and enthuse those I meet.
‘I believe that companies with a strong social conscience perform better. My aim is to guide and inspire organisations to embed these values and help them achieve improved staff engagement, brand loyalty, resource use and financial performance.’
What do you think?