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Integrating Business Strategy to Sustainability Goals    [Date Added : 11/24/2017 ]
Bain & Company reports that just 2% of companies are successful in achieving their sustainability goals. In a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review, Ingersoll Rand chairman Michael W. Lamach discussed how the 146-year-old organization has over the past few years integrated sustainability and business strategy to anticipate and address major global trends - the most prominent is climate change.

Ingersoll Rand's 2014 Global Climate Commitment is one way the firm is attempting to solve the unsustainable demand for energy resources and its impact on the environment. According to Lamach, the best opportunities for improving the environmental impact of an organization come from the people who are closest to the day-to-day mechanics, and shortcomings, of existing procedures. They are often the first to recognize and raise up areas of improvement, and it is important that leadership is ready to listen.

Too often, however, the employees who are best positioned to influence change do not understand how they can contribute or may not view sustainability as a business imperative. Leadership must ensure these team members feel empowered and understand their role in helping the company achieve its long-term sustainability goals.

According to a recent Gallup survey, only 32% of US employees say that they are enthusiastic about, and committed to, their work, and worldwide only 13% of employees report that they are engaged. Compare this to Ingersoll Rand, where its employee engagement scores rank in the top decile among all companies. For example, 92% of Ingersoll Rand's workers believe energy efficiency and sustainability are critical to the company's future business success, and the firm's leadership is providing them with the encouragement and capabilities needed to achieve this long-term vision.

Lamach notes that team members want to understand that meeting sustainability goals does not just help the company - it helps customers, communities and the world. One option is a third-party validated system that tracks all of the actions taken against sustainability goals, allowing a company to see progress at the local and global levels.

Ingersoll Rand, in partnership with thinkstep, has created a series of proprietary product greenhouse gas calculators to track its product-related emissions, including emissions generated from electricity. Through the web-based calculators, the company is able to distribute the responsibility of data collection across internal teams, analyze data and report results in a consistent, transparent and credible manner. Moreover, by sharing these results with external partners and customers, the firm is able to provide further insight into the efficiency of its products which can help inform them as they set goals of their own.

While tracking metrics to show local and global improvement is an important element, Ingersoll Rand also recognizes the employees who make success possible. Whether through enterprise-wide recognition or team-based awards programs, taking time to appreciate the dedication of your teammates goes a long way in continued engagement and commitment to the company and its purpose.

("Connected Our Strategy to Sustainability Goals," by Michael W. Lamach, Harvard Business Review, October 27, 2017. Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing.)
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