As Quality, Environment, Safety & Health (QESH) professionals, it is essential that we integrate the Sustainability priorities of our organizations in a value-added way to our (existing) management systems. Although the QESH community sometimes feels like the financial world has taken over the accountability for Sustainability, on the longer term it is essential that the Sustainability strategy becomes an integrated part of our companies' DNA and management systems. The QESH community has an essential role to play to support the Sustainability strategy with their specific knowledge and system tools which are ideally suited to link with the Sustainability community (eg. problem-solving, reporting, roles and responsibilities definition, internal audits, claim handling...)
I'm Silvie Coutuer, PhD, founder of KDENZA and Business Quality Consultant.
Over the past 13 years I took up different QESH related positions with increasing responsibilities, ultimately managing a global integrated management system for Quality, Environment and Safety for 80+ sites. I coached hundreds of people through their management system questions and audited several international suppliers for Sustainability. This gave me a huge opportunity to measure, analyse, and test the effectiveness of different system strategies at scale.
This checklist gives you an easy way to remember the 10 most important things to do to make sure that sustainability aspects are integrated in your existing management systems in a future-proof way.
Your Checklist for a Sustainability-Linked Management System That will Push Your Company Forward
Take your time to analyze the current situation and use the following checklist to identify the gaps.
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Involve your top management in the need to link Sustainability with (existing) Quality, Environmental and Safety Management systems. Explain the need to avoid duplication and the need for an aligned company approach towards customers, certification bodies, shareholders, ...
Context and Stakeholder Analysis
Include the sustainability aspects of your company in the context and stakeholder analysis of your QESH management systems (TIP: an integrated management system can save you a lot of efforts for this)
Challenge the Buzzwords
Identify the Sustainability buzzwords (you know them when you see them) and dig in what's behind them: are there criteria and definitions defined, is there reliable data behind them or should this still be optimized, ...
Risk and Opportunity Analysis
Review the risk and opportunity analysis on all levels (strategical/tactical/operational) and make sure that the sustainability aspects are take into account. Share the opportunities to the organization and not only the risks!
Roles and Responsibilities
Make sure that roles and responsibilities are defined and implemented in a future-proof way (eg. not only by temporary adding extra work to people). Sustainability is there to stay.
Include quantitative KPI's, not only good intentions —that means measurable metrics. Also "unmeasurable" topics can be quantified as measurable KPI's when the right methodology is used. It is essential that the KPI's are supported by the organization and create empowerment (not only reported "because the boss/the shareholder told us to")
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Get specific in your action lists and action follow-up! Make sure that timings, responsibles, status and resources are clear. Do not only mention the far future (eg. 2030 and 2050).
Provide training that explains not only the focus on Sustainability but also the link to Quality. Explain that eg. product Quality will become even more non-negotiable since bad product Quality will have a huge impact on the lifecycle and recyclability reputation of the company!
Steerco's (eg PMO)
Create clear and honest steering committees where people have the opportunity to speak up (especially if things are not going according to plan) and course adaptations are possible.
Integrate the Sustainability aspects and processes in the internal system audit programme and collaborate with your finance and risk department to increase the communication of improvement actions
If you need any help in empowering your Business Quality, defining a gap analysis, drafting an action plan providing training abouts Sustainability/Quality/Environment, or presenting to your management, do not hesitate to contact KDENZA at email@example.com or +32488729010.
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