At the AIM Sustainability Summit today I heard companies discussing how to engage executives in sustainability.
It struck me that there are at least three key internal stakeholder groups that need to be kept informed on progress. And, these meetings and groups seem elusive to us as Sustainability Leaders. How do we get something out of them?
The ones I find the toughest are Project Steering Teams, Executive Steering Teams (who provide overall guidance and license to take time from other priorities to get sustainability work done), and Board of Directors level reviews.
Implementation Steering Teams - If the project is big enough, and it's going to last for a year, it needs this. Every month. Get it on the calendars early. Don't forget someone who might not be directly involved, like the product manager or MIS lead. Each meeting has to have a defined agenda, and open actions list.
Executive Steering - these are the senior VPs that can release funds, assign people, and set priorities when there is a conflict. For instance, do we put people on X sustainability project, or Y other project. It's critical to get them engaged in the meeting, bring real directional steering questions, and be clear on what is needed from them. A head-nod at the end isn't enough.
If it's a simple project review and everything is on track, skip it. You might as well just email the results. The beauty of this meeting is that it is a tool to get the right resources.
Board Level - Maybe it's 20 minutes a year. That's all you get, and you have six topics to cover--but what an opportunity! Like most CFOs, the board isn't about counting pennies, it's about lowering risk to the business, strategy, long-term. This is the place to tell the stories, show pictures, and give overall multi-year approach.