While the green pillar of environmental, social, and governance guidelines tends to get the most attention, there are still two more areas to explore. The second pillar, social, has to do with how your business interacts with various stakeholders within and outside your organization. What’s a stakeholder? Stakeholders, as simply defined by the Stanford Research Institute, are “...those groups without whose support [your] organization would cease to exist.” These vary depending on the business, sector, and several other factors. All stakeholders, regardless of who they are, play a very special role in driving business growth.
For our purposes, stakeholders fall into three main segments. The first are internal stakeholders, namely, employees. How you engage, treat, and recognize employees at all levels is a principle part of a robust sustainability strategy. The second segment of stakeholders are outside your organization, but central to it. These are your guests. Guests play a crucial role in helping realize your sustainability goals. Lastly, we have another segment of external stakeholders: those in the local community. Political leadership, community organizations, and even the local park ranger all contribute to what’s called your social license to operate. While this may not be an actual piece of paper, it can make or break your business just the same.
The first of the three big eco-conscious pillars, environment, is the one that usually gets the most attention. That’s because we’ve been hearing about saving the forests, cleaning the oceans, and clearing the skies for decades. Phrases like “reduce, reuse, recycle” are now common, separating plastic from aluminum is second nature, and even looking at our carbon footprint is something most people consider. Being environmentally friendly is no longer a fringe thing. Now, it’s expected of us.
Those in the hospitality industry, too, can contribute their part to creating a more sustainable future. Hotels can undoubtedly be as green as the hybrid-car driving, upcycled clothes-wearing, reusable coffee mug carrying person on the street. In fact, much of what individuals do to go green can be done, at scale, in your operations. Not only is there the feel-good factor of doing your part but also the commercial benefits of being green, by saving money and being more appealing to potential guests.
But what can you and your business do? No matter how big or small, you can start making a positive difference when it comes to the environment. It begins with efforts you can easily get started working on right now, like reducing water use and food waste. Then, there are larger operational issues to tackle, including your supply chain, construction, and renewable energy practices. The key is to get started by engaging the right guides to make your business more eco-conscious.