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Implementing a green corporate culture as a sustainability strategy
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We live in the most advanced time in technological innovation, with an unprecedented amount of tech gadgets being made available to consumers. However this comes at a price, as the world is still reliant on fossil fuels to generate electricity. This has led to more carbon emissions as well as an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases trapped in our atmosphere and accelerating the effects of climate change. 

According to NASA, since the 1700s, the planet’s industrial activities have significantly contributed to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by 50%. In 2021 alone, the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index has also reported a high value of 1.49, and this value will continue to rise at an alarming rate for years to come. Simply put, planet Earth is in a state of a planetary emergency.

To mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases, more companies are working towards the reduction of their carbon footprint, as they aim to achieve carbon neutrality. However, this can only be achieved through a paradigm shift in corporate culture, as such businesses are highly encouraged to change their mindsets from a company culture that is competitive in nature to one that is green and sustainable.

What is a green culture?

Green culture is a movement that encompasses the goals, values, and beliefs that are related to the reduction of one's carbon footprint. A method used to promote environmental sustainability and effect change in consumer behaviour, such a movement can be used by an individual to lead by example and influence others through their actions. For instance, through simple daily commitments such as using public transport on a daily basis, and the commitment to recycle and reuse items.

However, there is a limit to what an individual can do to effect change, as compared to the collective efforts made by organisations. For example, to reduce the harmful effects of plastic packaging on the environment, many enterprises have adopted the use of green packaging, while bigger multinational organisations have switched to using recycled materials to manufacture their products (e.g. using recycled plastic bottles as a replacement for virgin polyester).

What are the differences between green culture and sustainable culture?

While green culture and sustainable culture share many common points and are often used interchangeably, they mean different things. Green culture practices focus primarily on environmental health, one of which would be the use of biofuels in ocean transport or the use of recycled materials in manufacturing (e.g. recycling aluminium soda cans to create aluminium ingots for die casting).

On the other hand, the culture of being sustainable has a broader meaning as it is not just about protecting the natural environment. Company’s adopting the culture of sustainability must also consider their social, economic, and cultural impact. In terms of being sustainable, socially responsible organisations must take into consideration factors such as fair trade and ethical labour practices, as these have far reaching consequences when it comes to the workers and their families in developing communities.

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Can going green and developing a sustainability ethos set the tone for an organisation’s culture? 

Undoubtedly, the first step to building a sustainability strategy is challenging the assumption that industry and sustainability fall on two ends of a spectrum. This is an erroneous mindset, as many businesses have proved otherwise, as they have adopted “green” fundamentals in their corporate processes and operations.  

Here are the essential steps to creating a sustainable business:

1. Adopt a sustainable corporate mindset

Embedding sustainability in organisational culture requires the adoption of an environmentally and socially responsible mindset. However, building a business with a green and sustainable culture will not be a walk in the park, afterall, Rome was not built in a day. To implement the various green and sustainable initiatives, there would have to be buy-ins from the various stakeholders, especially the ones who are the most concerned about the company’s bottomline. 

Initiating a discussion with the various stakeholders can be challenging, and this will definitely take time for everyone to reach a consensus on why and how sustainability can be achieved. Yet, understanding the need for effecting positive change to the environment and society is vital in determining the organisation's direction. To enact such changes, it will be helpful to have a diverse and inclusive talent pool of workers that can help brainstorm ideas and initiatives to guide the business in the right direction towards a sustainable work culture.

2. Manage sustainability initiatives with care

Sometimes, expectations may not transform into reality. Developing a sustainability strategy and making it work is no easy feat, but it can be done if your green initiatives are being monitored closely and executed properly. For this reason, businesses must assemble a team of dedicated employees (a steering committee) to handle all the “green” tasks. This way, your business can spearhead greener procurement processes with higher efficiency and speed. 

Additionally, corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are also highly encouraged, as this is great for building cohesion within an organisation, encouraging a change of mindset across all employees, and it will be a great boost to the corporate communications team’s branding efforts. A CSR committee can be formed to focus on various projects, these can range from hosting community cleanups to devising recycling and composting programmes.

3. Set business sustainability goals

Another step businesses ought to take towards achieving a sustainable organisational culture is identifying potential stumbling blocks and prioritising all high-impact initiatives that will solve or reduce their carbon footprints. It is also imperative that businesses set clear goals for the future, however, bear in mind the feasibility of your goals, as immediate changes are jarring. As such, breaking up lofty endeavours such as going carbon neutral or zero waste into piecemeal implementations can make new processes more manageable, as it helps all parties involved ease into the new functions and operations.

Why is sustainability important for businesses?

To the cynic, embracing sustainable and environmentally-centric principles is just a marketing trend, but in truth the cultivation of sustainability strategies and adopting a mindset towards green culture can help businesses become more efficient, competitive, and profitable.  

As mentioned earlier, while individual efforts are laudable, they are unable to effect real change, however a collective effort by big corporations can turn the tables. When there is a concerted effort by a business to implement sustainability strategies, it will bring about lasting benefits in the long run, benefits that will promote and nurture an organisational shift in mindset towards being more environmentally-conscious. 

  • Here are some green culture practices to adopt:
  • Create a higher demand for sustainable products and services
  • Use fewer non-renewable natural resources, and reduce pollution and waste during manufacturing
  • During the product development stage, consider every phase of a package’s life cycle 
  • Switch to green warehousing
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions during transportation (use biofuels)Adopt an efficient life-cycle management process
  • Adopt an efficient life-cycle management process

Go green with DHL Express

Reducing carbon footprint is an important issue many large corporations look to address in their long-term roadmap. DHL Express offers an effective sustainability-focused solution by shifting the paradigm in express delivery services through the use of carbon-neutral international shipping and claiming verified carbon footprint reductions. Open a DHL Express account today, and work with a partner that shares the same vision of sustainable development.