By Hanan Awaad
Business professionals around the world are committing themselves and their companies to sustainable business practices, however, it is not enough to claim that you are committed. To truly run a green business you need to acquire the necessary knowledge to run a successful and profitable green business.
There are many paths to getting knowledge ; from a 4-year degree in Business Sustainability to MBAs with a focus on Sustainability issues, to enormous workshops and training courses provided by professional organizations. However, not everyone has the required financial resources and time to pursue a degree or a certificate in business sustainability. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, we need more than reading blogs and short articles. It is necessary to learn tools and develop skills needed to transform your business into a sustainable and profitable one.
Many companies found that getting certified as green businesses enables the firm, employees, and top executives to:
- be recognized by customers and community as leading companies that is keen to address the concerns of your community;
- increase profitability by controlling operational costs and increasing market share;
- understand green strategies and practices and their application;
- engage employees and improve the effectivenesses of business operations, and
- get the first-hand experience and learn by doing and measure your impact.
Successful professionals and executives understand that every industry has its unique characteristics. Fortunately, many resources, publications, and best practices are available, which are developed by specialized associations, experts, and consultants. For more than three decades many organizations are supporting corporates and businesses in their endeavor in corporate social responsibility and business sustainability. For instance, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has partners all over the globe and a vast network of more than 60 companies committed to providing leadership for sustainable development in their respective countries or regions.
Also, the EXCEL Partnership provides Canadian corporations with unique learning platforms such as round tables, hot-line, teleconferences, and monthly newsletter. Sustainable Waterloo Region is another local organization, which focuses on the Regional Carbon Initiative, which facilitates voluntary target-setting and reductions of carbon emissions by organizations across Waterloo Region. The Ministry of Public Works and Government Services provides environmental certification programs for identifying environmentally preferred goods and services. Environment Canada released in 2010 its first Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) that mandates that “Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government.”
These organizations along with other agencies provide many useful resources and publications that could elevate your knowledge as a green business professional. Live Green Toronto  offers four environmental certification programs: LEED Canada – Green Building Rating System, BOMA BESt, ISO 14001, and Ecologo Program. They also have many other incentives and rebate programs that you can apply for.
As a management consultant worked in environmental management systems, I know understand that the most difficult phase in the journey to transform and green any business is strengthening the commitment to employing more sustainable practices. This commitment requires a strong leadership that champions the change initiative and keeps everyone in the company motivated and committed.
You do not need a degree in sustainability to be a green motivated/motivating leader; you need a strong belief. Many executives that I met during my years of experience think that ‘Sustainability’ is a buzz word they can use and add ‘the flavor of the month’ whenever they want to start a marketing campaign. Only the real leaders can incorporate sustainable practices into their business activities and processes, at the strategic level to all the way down to the tactical level.
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