As Henry Ford used to say: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” A quote that has not lost any of its relevance, also when it comes to pushing an organisation’s corporate sustainability objectives.
Companies have discovered, that “moving forward together”, meaning by forming partnerships, is the best approach to address sustainability challenges.
According to a 2015 report, 90% of executives recognized the importance of sustainability collaboration, but only 47% of their organisations actually involved in these kind of partnerships. To ensure the success of these collaborations, there are a few things you should ask yourself:
I. Why do I want to collaborate?
Partnerships are there to reach goals that you would not be able to achieve on your own. There must be a real purpose behind your actions. If you simply want PR attention, then there are easier ways to get it. Sustainability is an issue that goes beyond this. You need to see the bigger picture and define what this will bring both for you and your potential partner.
ENGIE, a global energy player, joined forces with the World Urban Campaign (WUC) to “promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities”. They realized, that as an individual organisation, there are limits to creating transformational change. By joining a community with more than 136 partners to date, they are one step closer to having an actual impact.
II. What do WE want to achieve?
Again, partnerships are there to “move forward together”. This means you and your partner need to look into the same direction and share the same objectives, otherwise the collaboration is most likely to fail. When looking for potential partners, try to find organisations that share the same vision and are just as committed to the cause as you are. Set few but ambitious goals that everyone agrees on and cares about.
L’Oreal, the world leader in beauty and hair products, shows how this can be done: Their objective is to involve all their strategic suppliers in their sustainability programme by 2020. While this goal is quite ambitious, it is still achievable, since the group selects its suppliers based on their environmental and social performance and on the other hand, provides them with the necessary knowledge and tools to improve their performance in that field. So far, they have already been able to implement this strategy with 51% of their suppliers.
III. Who is going to take the lead?
Identifying the right people for the job is just as important as setting the right objectives. Commitment is key in order to actually reach them. A dedicated leader, that shares the vision of the partnership will make it flourish. But after all, this is a group project, so don’t miss out on engaging your employees and stakeholders into the discussion, which might bring in new innovative ideas.
BMW, the German automotive manufacturer, implemented the “BMW Group dialogue”, a format to create an on-going exchange with their stakeholders in order to align the company’s goals with the needs and expectations of a global society and refine its overall sustainability strategy.
IV. How am I going to define the success?
Forget about stiff KPIs for a moment. Collaborations may hold some surprising values for partners. While your partnership may not change the world, it may inspire others to join your vision – because collaborations are not restricted in terms of participants!
The examples of ENGIE, L’Oreal, and BMW, who we can proudly count among our customers, show the power of successful sustainability partnerships. They all share a vision, to make the world a better place, and although this won’t happen tomorrow, they inspire to be part of the movement!
V. Are we using right tools to form successful partnerships?
Optimy can bring you closer to achieving successful sustainability collaborations. Our software helps you to compare potential candidates based on your own set of criteria. This will simplify the decision process and help you align your organisation’s objectives with those of your future partner. Optimy is about collaborating and communicating. Its collaboration tools and messaging system will allow you to easily manage your projects in a team consisting of people within and outside of your organisation to achieve the best possible results.
Find out more about how Optimy can help you managing your partnerships!
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