Scripture Psalm 24:1 – “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord.”
Proverbs 12:10 – “A righteous man cares about his animal’s health but even the merciful acts of the wicked are cruel.”
Sustainability can be a highly divisive term depending on how you use it and in what circles. Does that mean you are being a left-wing extremist promoting environmentalism at the expense of all business? If you reject it outright, does it mean you are a right-wing crazy who refuses to use the word green, tree or environment?
We would advocate for a middle view of the term in the context of business, community and a humble perspective that we are but a ‘mere handbreadth’ as it tells us in Psalm 39? In other words, with a realistic view of our life and our impact – both significant potential for the current age but limited in the span of infinity, we should be thoughtful stewards of all that God has given us which includes the environment or the earth as indicated in Psalm 24:1 and of the resources for business, as encouraged by Proverbs 12.
So what does it mean for leaders serving their families, businesses and communities to be sustainable-minded? First, it requires a recognition that moving your business towards a more sustainable, environmentally conscious posture can be difficult and fraught with challenges. It’s also important to recognize that there is increasing cultural pressure from consumers who want to do business with companies and brands who are sustainable – so there is business opportunity for those willing to grasp it. This means keeping in mind as leaders not just the money we make but the way in which we do it – including the impacts we have on our community and the environment.
Why else does this matter? Reflecting further on the comment from Psalm 39 about being a mere handbreadth, we are called to be stewards of the very small space we occupy for a short amount of time – not necessarily because of its massive or legacy leaving impact but because that is what is part of what it means to live out our humanity to the fullest. Would living your life in a wasteful way and destroying your family, community, culture and environment make a big difference in the grand scheme of infinity – no. However, would it completely destroy the purpose and calling given to you by your Maker? Absolutely. It matters because stewardship of your resources – including looking out for the environment and your community are part of living out your calling.
So how can you get started? Well there is only so much one person can do but as a leader, you are positioned to have an impact at many different levels which you can consider for your person and professional life:
- Personal – consider what you can do at home, with your family and/or with your routines? Routines matter because they result in less mindless waste when life is lived more intentionally (we’ll talk about this one more in the future). How is your family serving and conserving together?
- Executive team – What are simple ways you can find together to improve your operations – even in little ways such as recycling, donating or re-using various supplies?
- Company – Among your entire company’s team, develop a content to invite everyone’s participation. One option is invite ideas from your employees to promote some sort of bonus for the best 1-3 ideas which are implemented
- Community – Look for like-minded organizations in terms of your company’s values and consider ways you can partner with them locally or regionally – tangible ways that connect your company’s mission and values to a non-profit organization.
- Larger initiatives – where you can start considering ways you can partner across industry or association organizations to bring about even bigger change. As we’ll explore in a future episode, trends of co-opetition in 2022 lead us to consider how much more we can achieve together – sustainability is a great starting place for industry and trade groups.
We hope this encourages you to consider the ways your company might become more sustainably-minded and leverage these efforts for wins which benefit your business and community. What are some ways The Consultant and The Coach help their clients with sustainable operations?
- Work with a board and/or executive team to refresh their strategy and marketing plans related to sustainability
- Develop and implement partnership strategies with non-profit organizations or related industry companies to achieve greater impact for sustainability initiatives
- Advise CEOs on how to approach sustainability as part of their own personal portfolio of development and how to lead with their teams.
- Work with an HR leader to implement sustainability initiatives as part of growth goals and plans for internal employees and culture development initiatives across the company.