Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program - Key 2: Integrate Sustainability into Day-to-Day Operations

Part 5 in the blog series The New PR
Jul 17, 2012 2:30 PM ET
Campaign: The New PR

Posted by John Friedman

From a Vision to a Culture (building an internal constituency)

For sustainability to be integrated into a business model, it must be compatible not just on the theoretical level, but also practically on a day-to-day basis. Asking people to engage in behavior that is seen as incompatible with their regular duties is a recipe for failure. For this reason, the human resources department is a key partner when building the program. Incentives and rewards must be aligned with the desired actions and outcomes in sustainability, just as they are for other more traditional business objectives.

Identify and build on “quick hit” benefits

Sustainability programs are not just long range efforts. In fact, they can facilitate and provide short term benefits. There are tax advantages that can be realized associated with in-kind contributions. There are often local, state and national tax incentives for targeted programs; such as environmental mitigation or programs that assist the elderly, the infirm or infants.

Risk Management

Another benefit is in the area of risk management. In addition to its moral obligation to do everything in its power to keep its employees safe, a company also reduces costs associated with insurance premiums and lawsuits (in the event of an accident). A reputation for safety will also encourage more safety conscious applicants. The result is a company culture of safety, watching out for the well-being of others and refusing to cut corners on safety programs. That, in turn results in safer working conditions and practices.

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John Friedman, an award-winning communications professional and recognized sustainability expert with more than 20 years of experience, is co-founder and vice chair of the board for the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SBNOW). 

Friedman has served as both an external and internal sustainability leader, helping companies, ranging from small companies to leading global enterprises, turn their values into successful business models by integrating their environmental, social, and economic aspirations into their cultures and business practices. 

His insights on sustainability issues and strategy are a regular feature on Huffington Post.

Friedman authored the e-publication The New PR which outlines how companies must modify the way they communicate to meet stakeholders' changing expectations through five proven keys for developing programs that replace "spin" with transparency and unlock the full potential of a sustainability program to build reputational capital. Friedman is currently working on a new book Your Backyard Is My Front Yard.

He can be reached at, is @JohnFriedman on Twitter and can be connected on LinkedIn and Facebook