Where do I start with my sustainability audit?
Our clients often come to us with similar challenges. They’re looking to develop a new sustainability programme or improve what’s already in place. Yet they don’t know where to start. It’s either too complicated or they’re over-stretched. Often both.
Within the companies, there might be a variety of more obvious initiatives in place. Either to meet compliance or that have been established by passionate employees.
But frequently, things have stagnated and these no longer meet the growing demands of customers, partners and colleagues on an ever-increasing range of topics. Or they’ve noticed there are more sustainability-related regulations to keep up with. In short, these companies know they need to do something but they need some help in getting started.
This is where a sustainability audit comes into its own. Done well, it’s a quick, easy and inexpensive way of understanding how your business stacks up against best practice across a broad range of areas – from energy, water and waste to employee practices and programmes, and everything in between.
However, when companies hear the word ‘audit’, they often think of a long, tediously painful exercise, with an under-compassionate ‘expert’ asking them to dig up details of things long since disregarded. Whereas here, there is almost no prep work involved for the company. And the audit that we have developed is done in half a day, during which we use a set of questions as a framework for friendly discussion to find out how sustainability is applied. We’re not there to judge or debate, simply to understand what is already happening.
An audit like this also doesn’t need to go into excessive detail on any of the topic areas. For instance, we’re not there to scrutinise data or the content of policies but to understand if data is captured and monitored or policies are in place and actively applied. This is the information we take away, applying a score against each criteria which enables you to quickly understand your relative strengths and areas for improvement. Scoring is done relative to best practice, taking a company’s size and sector into account. And the tool we’ve developed can be applied to any company in any sector, whether an SME looking to start or a larger organisation with a more established approach.
Crucially, we then develop tailored and targeted recommendations to address gaps and improve performance in each area, with a clear view of what should be prioritised. This concrete set of actions can quickly and easily be pulled into a plan, saving time and fuss.
It isn’t easy to know where to start when you’re under-resourced and overwhelmed with information and competing priorities. But with the right tool at the right time, a sustainability audit will cut through the complexity and show you the way forward.
If you would like to find out more about our sustainability audit service, please do get in touch.
What sustainability looks like and means to me as a millennial, by Iona Neilson, Project Analyst Simply Sustainable
Supporting our local homelessness charity
Concepts for sustainability strategies