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Circle Dev supports the development of your Sustainability Strategy

Approach & Methodology

  • PROFITABLE approach: Our long experience in the industry gives us a sense of reality. We understand that a company exists to create value for its shareholders, and our approach to sustainability takes this into account
  • DE-RISKED approach: We use an AGILE methodology to ensure that we do not embark on a long and costly process. We take things one step at a time and constantly adjust the approach to take account of other priorities and to adapt to a rapidly changing world
  • EDUCATIONAL approach rather than traditional consultancy. Our aim is to empower our clients and make them automous as quickly as possible, so that we can start making an impact elsewhere, whereas the traditional consultancy approach tends to make you dependent on the consultant

General framework to develop a Sustainability Strategy

Step 1 - Purpose definition and objectives

The starting point is a dialogue with the CEO and/or management team. This dialogue includes a review (or definition) of the company’s “Purpose Statement”. At the same time, we will discuss initial goals, resources, budget, and timeline. It is also about assessing the willingness of the management team to change, whose involvement is essential to the success of the sustainability journey.

Step 2 - Stakeholders dialogue

This step includes the identification of the internal and external stakeholders, including the broader environment. We need to engage selected stakeholders through different channels (surveys, workshops, 1-to-1 interviews…) in function of their position on the interest-power matrix. Using different available material (internal documents, SDGs, examples from other companies… ), the aim is to align on sustainability objectives, to get early buy-in and to list as many sustainability options as possible.

Step 3 - Analysis and formulation of strategic options

We now have a long list of potential strategic options in the areas of environment, social and governance (ESG). In this phase, we need to establish a “double materiality” matrix that assesses the value of each option for stakeholders and for the company. Using this “double materiality” matrix, we can rank potential strategic options according to their value.

Step 4 - Prioritisation (financial, strategic, feasability)

The main options retained in step 3 should be evaluated and prioritised combining 3 dimensions : financial assessment (including potential subsidies), strategic assessment and feasibility. At this point, decision needs to be taken on which options are retained and budget and timeline should be assigned to each of them. 

Step 5 - Measurement and Reporting

Measuring and reporting sustainability transparently is increasingly important. Not only to give visibility and improve the company’s reputation, but also for shareholders and access to capital. Global processes and reporting standards are in place (GRI – Global Reporting Initiative) and provide good guidance. A number of regulations making these standards mandatory are already in place for large companies and will soon be in place for SMEs. Based on the outcome of step 4, specific targets (KPIs) are defined for each selected option on the short, medium and longer term.

Step 6 - Emotional aspects and communication plan

Much attention needs to be paid to the integration and motivation of key stakeholders, especially employees. A well thought-out communication plan is essential to get people on board with your company’s goal and your sustainability initiatives. We need to speak to the head, but also to the heart. Balanced and transparent external communication on sustainability achievements and plans also contributes to a stronger corporate reputation.

Step 7 - Implementation

Sustainability strategies are less often (fully) implemented than general strategies. Communicating the plan but not implementing it is likely to have a significant negative impact on the company’s reputation. Regular checkpoints are needed to ensure that we not only reap the low-hanging fruit as soon as possible, but also that we complete the steps in time to achieve the medium and long-term objectives within the agreed timeframe. Processes need to be adapted to include the appropriate governance tools to carry out these regular reviews.

Step 8 - Labels

Measuring and reporting on sustainability improvements can also facilitate access to labels such as the EU Ecolabel, B Corp, Ecovadis, etc. These labels are becoming increasingly important for gaining customer acceptance and appreciation, access to capital and improving the reputation of the company.

Step 9 - Continuous improvement

Sustainable development is a never-ending journey. How do we implement continuous improvement in business processes and governance? How do we ensure that our strategy evolves in line with the needs of consumers and society? How do we correct the trajectory when we deviate from the objectives? These are some of the key issues that need to be addressed here.

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Circle Dev supports the development of your Sustainability Strategy