It is easy to talk about sustainability in organisations but what does that really mean? There has always been a lot of room for interpretation in answering this but the new Future Fit Business Benchmark could change that.
For the first time the Future Fit benchmark sets out a comprehensive and clear set of criteria by which it is possible to assess whether an organisation is really operating sustainably. It covers the use of physical resources, products and services, operational waste, land, employees, communities, customers, the board and owners, and the supply chain. For each area there are one or more statements that would, if met, accord with the rigorous notion of sustainability employed. For example, one of the statements – under physical resources – is that “All energy is from non-polluting, carbon neutral sources”. Achieve this, and other similar goals, and your organisation will be well on its way to being a sustainable enterprise.
Clearly defined end points
The work, based on the Natural Step, provides really comprehensive guidance for any organisation that truly wants to put sustainability at the heart of what it does. We believe that, when setting goals, backcasting is the most useful approach. You start with the end point – what you want to achieve – and then work back to assess plans and actions to achieve it. Other approaches to setting goals, for example thinking about what we can or might want to achieve, or what current good practice in our sector is, may lead to some ambitious targets but these are unlikely to be ambitious enough.
What is so good about the Future Fit benchmark is that up to now it has not always been obvious what the end point should be – this guidance changes that.
We will certainly be making use of it and it would be wonderful to see others doing the same.