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09.06.2021 By Andy Rohr, Executive Vice President

The Importance of the Executive’s Voice: Landing Credible, Engaging Sustainability Stories

Droplet of water on a green leaf.

In my work supporting comms for several senior executives, there is an issue that is top of mind for all leaders regardless of their function or sector: sustainability. After all, with increasing pressure from customers, shareholders and legislators, companies in every industry are incredibly keen to communicate their commitment to shaping a greener tomorrow.

Executive activations are an important way to give sustainability communications programs ‘legs.’ Whether it is via events, all-hands, social media or earned media opportunities, executives are uniquely positioned to successfully land sustainability-centered storytelling.

Here are some key sustainability themes to think about in terms of helping executives cut through in an authentic, credible way.

Be candid about the business upside

Whether an organization is B2B to B2C, customers expect a demonstrable commitment to sustainability. Underscoring this, a recent piece in Harvard Business Review highlights the growing demand from the investment community for transparency around sustainability.

Candidly addressing the business upside to sustainability – and the importance of addressing investors’ changing priorities – is a powerful way to build credibility. It shows that the company is committed to sustainability for the long-term and is closely listening to the needs of shareholders. It also helps pre-empt any questions around greenwashing.

So, definitely talk about how sustainability efforts align with core business strategy.  Executives are well positioned to talk about how sustainability efforts are unlocking new commercial opportunities and addressing customers’ needs.

Make it personal

As technology, sustainability and business competitiveness have become increasingly interconnected, leaders’ responsibilities are evolving in lockstep. For example, in the manufacturing and retail sectors many CTOs and COOs are focused on driving efficiencies in the supply chain – using real-time insights to anticipate changes in supply and demand and reduce waste. As such, relying solely on the Chief Sustainability Officer – or marketing – to lead on green storytelling can belie the full-scale transformation efforts of your company. Whereas when a business leader addresses how a company’s work in driving sustainability affects them as professionals, it powerfully illustrates their organization’s deep commitment to change.

How are you approaching your job differently? Are you working to forge new partnerships to help with your sustainability journey? How are you working with your colleagues differently? These are all great questions to address when crafting sustainability themed stories.

Bring employees on the journey  

Engaging with internal audiences is just as important as engaging with external ones. Certainly, share those carbon reduction milestones and let your pride come through. But just like with external audiences, communicating how sustainability efforts align with your business strategy is important too.  Ensuring there is a clear, shared vision is incredibly powerful.

Relatedly, this is a great opportunity to talk about skilling and importance of continuous learning. Specifically, technologies like the cloud and AI will change how companies use data to shape all their decisions – from initiatives to curb carbon emissions to identifying new market opportunities. So, this is an ideal opportunity for leaders to talk about how they themselves are re-approaching their roles – using data and technology in new ways – and really leading from the front.

The bottom line: sustainability is what you do, not just what you say. Current Global believes leaders have an opportunity to show how their organization walks the talk, and we are here to help you strengthen your sustainability storytelling and executive visibility programs.

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