Numerous family-operated businesses in the wood industry are driven by a strong sense of purpose and uphold values focused on leaving a positive legacy for future generations. ESG, short for Environmental, Social, and Governance, encompasses responsible and sustainable practices that not only benefit the planet and society but also enhance long-term business viability.
When organizations take care of the environment, act responsibly in society, and have clear, fair rules for how they work, you can lower your chances of encountering problems, increase your client base, and attract talented and involved employees, ultimately improving your organization’s process and reputation. ESG helps a company match its values with its actions, making them fair, strong, and able to succeed in a world where ESG focused businesses will become industry leaders.
Most organizations will have some form of ESG implementation already. The best way forward in this journey will be to identify your current initiatives and organize them in the ESG model. Below are some further ideas to explore and expand on possible opportunities to implement ESG.
- Sustainable Materials Sourcing: Consider sourcing wood and materials from sustainably managed forests. Ensuring adherence to certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) also safeguards against deforestation and illegal logging, promoting a greener, more ethical supply chain.
- Energy Efficiency: Implementing energy-efficient practices and machinery minimizes overall operational costs and potentially qualifies the business for governmental incentives or subsidies aimed at promoting sustainable practices, providing a dual financial advantage. Invest in energy-efficient equipment and lighting. Explore opportunities for on-site renewable energy generation.
- Waste Reduction: Aim to minimize waste generation by optimizing production processes, reusing materials where possible, and implementing a recycling program.Employing Lean manufacturing processes can minimize waste, while repurposing materials and advocating for recycling can turn waste into valuable resources, supporting a circular economy and reducing landfill contributions.
- Eco-Friendly Finishes: Use environmentally friendly finishes and coatings to reduce harmful emissions and improve indoor air quality. Inform customers about the eco-friendly aspects of your products.
- Carbon Footprint Reduction: Calculate and track your carbon emissions. Develop strategies to reduce your carbon footprint, which may include transportation optimization and carbon offset programs.Reducing carbon emissions demonstrates commitment to global carbon reduction initiatives, potentially attracting partnerships and clients with strong green initiatives and avoiding future carbon tax implications.
- Worker Safety: Prioritize workplace safety by providing training, protective equipment, and maintaining a culture of safety.A devotion to worker safety, achieved through perpetual training and the provision of top-tier protective equipment, not only abates the potential for accidents but also fosters a culture that truly values its workforce.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Foster diversity and inclusion within your workforce by promoting equitable hiring and advancement opportunities. Create a workplace culture that values diversity.
- Fair Labor Practices: Ensure that your employees are paid fair wages and work reasonable hours. Complying with Canadian labor laws and providing benefits like healthcare and retirement plans not only protects your business, but also enhances worker satisfaction and retention.
- Employee Well-Being: Offer wellness programs, mental health support, and work-life balance initiatives to support employee well-being.Wellness initiatives correlate with improved productivity and reduced absenteeism, directly impacting operational efficiency and effectiveness.
- Community Engagement: Engage with the local community by supporting local charities and participating in community development projects. Consider local sourcing to support nearby businesses.Immersing your business in local community endeavors nurtures the community that supports your enterprise, facilitating symbiotic relationships and positive local development.
- Corporate Governance: Transparent reporting, ethical decision-making, and accountability foster trust among stakeholders, enhances your organizational reputation and protects against legal repercussions, increasing investor and customer confidence.
- Management Diversity: Aim to diversify your management team to ensure a broader range of perspectives and skills.A diverse management team is more likely to identify and capitalize on a wider array of opportunities and mitigate a broader range of risks, ensuring sustained organizational growth.
- Ethical Supply Chain Management: Ensure that your suppliers adhere to ethical and responsible practices, including sustainable sourcing and fair labor practices.
- Regulatory Compliance: Stay updated on relevant environmental and labor regulations in your province and Canada. Comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Data Security: Protect sensitive data, including customer and employee information, by implementing data security measures.While cyber-attacks and scam/fishing attempts on small businesses have seen a consistent increase year-over-year, 69% of small business owners do not consider cyber security a financial priority.
It is time to embrace ESG to empower sustainability for a brighter future in the wood manufacturing industry.
Amrita Bhogal is the 3rd generation at Sunrise Kitchens, with a focus on People and Culture. She is leading change through lean principles and continues to strengthen culture through values and behaviors.