What’s the real business case for going green? How can technology help and what have been the key lessons learned from real-world initiatives? Visitors of the Waste Work stage found out how to answer these and other questions during an expert panel discussion at this year’s Hotelympia exhibition.
In this interactive panel chaired by Siobhan O'neill, editor of Green Hotelier, panelists discussed real examples of where the case for sustainability makes business sense. Waste and resource use is a key issue for the food service and the hospitality industry. Significant opportunities exist across the sector to reduce cost and reap the reward of achieving sustainability goals. Experts from the hospitality and foodservice sector shared some lessons learned, tips and advice on how to make CSR initiatives a success within your business:
- Speak the language of finance to make your case
To secure budget and buy-in, it is critical to talk the right language with finance executives. Shift away from impact towards performance and efficiency. Trade the words like carbon, energy, sustainability to ROI, cost of operations, improved resource efficiency. This language is more likely to resonate with them and helps you make your points more clearly. It will help you move yourself away to be seen as the green guy on the corner and being seen as a central component to save money for the business.
- Create a strong business case
Never take a business case that is not really robust to executives. Collect all the data that justifies the allocation of resources to your CSR initiative, prepare a cost-benefit analysis. Always be confident about what you present and develop a strong strategy which outlines tangible business benefits. Show how the change will address the business problems or opportunities and save costs each year.
- Prove your strategy via pilot projects
Regardless of whether it is a new technology or an initiative you are trying to introduce, data speaks louder than any theoretical explanation. If you can prove from a pilot scheme that your project is able to improve the bottom line, you can be sure that this will grab the interest of the finance department. Demonstrate how quickly and easily the project can drive change on budget and on time in order to make your case stronger and earn their support.
- Integrate sustainability into the overall business strategy
Communicate the clear and tangible values that sustainable initiatives can achieve if they are embedded into the core business model. These values can be brand positioning, risk and cost reduction and improved competitiveness. Publish regular external and internal reports about the integrated strategy and performance. Substantiate with data that sustainability is business critical that enables the company to manage risks and address financial and environmental challenges.
- Engage employees on sustainability
Make sure employees understand the relevance of the sustainability initiatives to them and the business. According to Marc Zornes, Winnow Co-founder, the best way to create a sense of ownership is adding initiatives about what people genuinely care about in their jobs. Use incentive schemes that reward and motivate staff: league table, cash prizes and feature sections of employees’ success in the company newsletter.
- Publicise your green initiatives
Publicising your CSR initiatives will help you add value and credibility to those efforts. Promote your commitment to being environmentally and a socially responsible across your organisation. Shout about your success externally and internally using video and results data via newsletters, social media or PR coverage.
By following the simple tips above, you can ensure effective and profitable investments in CSR. Demonstrate the value and returns of the CSR initiatives in a manner that will be understood by all stakeholders to obtain continued support to green activities.
If your company has an impressive story on how it made the business case for sustainability work, please share it with us.