Once you've assessed the environmental and social impacts of your business, you should develop a sustainability action plan that describes the changes you will make and how you are going to implement them.
Your plan should focus on the highest priority changes for your business which you can achieve with the least effort. Your priorities may depend on a number of factors such as the cost and availability of resources used by your business, the likelihood of future regulatory requirements and opportunities to grow your business through sustainable innovation.
You should set long-term objectives and shorter-term targets and use your action plan to detail how you will work towards them.
A management system can help you do this in a systematic way, building a process of continual improvement.
You can also refer to a standard that has been produced to provide guidance on managing sustainable development in a business, the BS8900 standard on sustainable development.
Monitoring and reporting sustainability performance
Monitoring is a key element of the feedback loop you need to control your sustainability performance. Checking progress towards objectives lets you know whether your action plans are working. It also lets you know when you have achieved your targets and objectives and need to set new ones.
You should carry out monitoring and auditing on a regular basis to take account of how your business has changed. Auditing is a key ingredient of an effective management system, ensuring that the system itself is working and helping you identify ways to improve it.
You can help to ensure that sustainability remains a priority for your business by reporting regularly on progress. You can use your reports to keep employees and other stakeholders informed.
Public reporting helps to maximise the benefits of sustainable development for your business. For example, investors and regulators can see that your business has a sound approach, helping to reduce risks. Employees can see that you are committed, helping to motivate them to play their part in making your business more sustainable - see how to produce environmental reports for your business.