A BRIEF INSIGHT INTO SETTING UP THE RIGHT SYSTEM FOR MANAGING SUSTAINABILITY DATA
Congratulations. You have decided to embark on your sustainability journey. You have drafted your policies, and you have your sustainability strategy. Fantastic!
Like every endeavor, there will be some wins and some challenges. Indeed, for any system, there is always room for improvement. One fundamental thing about undertaking any improvement activity is the need for baseline data. As the saying goes, you cannot improve what you don’t measure. Your sustainability journey success will be determined by how well you can communicate what you are doing and how it translates to drive organizational goals. In this age of sustainability reporting, data is the golden ticket to communicate your sustainability efforts and position yourself for impact.
One fundamental requirement to get the correct data is to train the workers and build up competency in the areas targeted in your sustainability journey. Professionals can make all the differences in the data collection processes.
Here are a few tips to make your data collection and tracking a seamless process:
- Get your metrics and indicators right: If you have already determined your material topics from your sustainability strategy, then knowing the metrics or indicators to monitor should be easy. An important point here is to align with global standards and frameworks. The UNDP impact standards provide a management approach for measuring impact. The reporting standards (GRI, SASB) also provide specific metrics based on your sector and a good guideline for these indicators. But think of it using two lenses: to increase or decrease.
- If my organization has identified a high attrition rate, you want to improve employee engagement, culture, and labor practices. Through this, you can formulate indicators around this. Another example is if you have determined that your waste generation is high or low, you can still seek to improve the practices by sorting and recycling. Tracking the volume of waste generation per fraction and the amount recycled will be a good metric for this sustainability effort.
- Implement a system for collection, tracking, and monitoring these metrics. So you know the metrics to capture. How exactly do you plan to make this a seamless process?
- It is essential to put a system around this to get results. For example, we want to track the amount of waste we recycle. This will require a system where the quantity of sorted waste for recycling is scaled at collection and recorded and an end process monitoring of the waste. This simple system lets you get data on the amount of waste generated and recycled monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
- Establish clear accountability and responsibility: A system without accountability or responsibility is not a system. A responsible person must be appointed for these indicators or metrics to ensure the process is running as designed and monitor the system for improvement.
- Domesticate requirements: Each unit/department must have a clear role in the sustainability efforts. For example, the health and safety department may be responsible for leading and lagging indicators in the organization. Still, it does not mean responsible leaders should not do inspections or other responsibilities about health and safety.
- Engage good partners: For an organization to impact projects and social initiatives, it is essential to engage good partners to understand the need for data. A clear M &E framework must be implemented for all projects to ensure data can be captured accurately and appropriately.
- Foster collaboration: Some departments are more directly involved in the sustainability journey. However, collaboration across the units will yield a better result for the organization and promote a clear picture of the organizational performance.
- Use Software: There are software solutions available that can aid the collection and analytics of your sustainability/ESG data.
- Review the processes: A periodic review of data collected at intervals will offer insights and room for improvement. It will provide insights on which metric is complex and difficult to track and the challenges.
Those are some tips for setting up a sound system for tracking your sustainability data. Some sustainability metrics are complex and require technical expertise, and thus, the organization should consider engaging consultants to carry out these tasks. If you need further help, reach out to us.