Big Businesses Making SMARTER Sustainable Choices
When it comes to sustainability, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to focus on making choices that benefit the community if you don’t actually care about the people in it. So the recent announcement by Hershey that it will be launching a Shared Goodness Program aiming to make a positive impact on people’s lives, while also meeting the demands of customers and investors, is admirable.
Here’s the thing, anyone can talk the talk, but when companies show that they can actually walk the walk it’s a call for other major corporations (and smaller businesses, too) to take note that focusing on people over profit can work.
“[We] believe – and prove – that you can be a fierce competitor in the market while operating in a compassionate way…,” said Michele Buck, Hershey’s CEO. With the Shared Goodness Promise, the company pledges to be successful in a way that makes a positive difference.
This desire to improve sustainability isn’t simply driven by wanting to be a good corporate citizen, it is also inspired by other needs such changing consumer preferences in terms of help AND sustainable knowledge. Transparency toward supply chains, packaging and responsibly sourced ingredients are also motivating companies to adjust their methods. For example, Hershey is reimagining some of its core snacks while also working to use more sustainably sourced ingredients – such as cocoa, palm oil, sugar and coconut – and providing consumers with more information by utilizing QR codes on their packaging.
And Hershey is not alone. A recent post from GreenBiz highlighted the ways in which General Mills, McDonalds and Kering are also setting credible, courageous sustainability goals.
Making bold choices when it comes to sustainability goals is not only a wise business strategy, but also a positive stewardship policy. And there are a lot of ways that businesses can move toward making more sustainable choices.
While many companies have been focused on establishing SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based), Jon Dettling the US Director for Quantis, believes that the corporate world should re-evaluate this process and instead creating SMARTER goals (Science-based, Moving the pack, Ambitious, Relevant, Timely, Earth-bound and Reaching out).
Dettling believes that meaningful sustainability goals shouldn’t be focused simply on the individual companies, but also all the partner organizations that they do work with. That means inspiring your suppliers and clients to make changes, too.
McDonald’s announced its first science-based target this year, covering restaurants, offices and supply chain. The commitment covers franchisees, which account for the bulk of McDonald’s-branded restaurants. Since McDonald’s doesn’t produce goods, they can only achieve these goals by working with supply chain partners.
General Mills’ Jeff Hanratty said, "It’s scary to share a goal with someone, and in the same sentence tell them you’re not sure how you’re going to achieve it. But this is science. We didn’t pull it out of the air, it’s what Mother Nature needs from us."
Scientific understanding and data evolve and can be relatively fluid, which means targets must be as too. McDonald’s Rachael Sherman agreed, noting that once people understand the concept, they are much more comfortable with shifting goals.
As big businesses start to embrace these sustainable movements and encourage their partner organizations to do the same, it’s a powerful opportunity to inspire other companies to make meaningful changes to the way they operate. It’s not just about saving money, it’s also about saving the world around us.