The Manager's Role in Sustainability

Managers of sustainable industrial facilities find ways to grow revenues and improve profitability by increasing safety, loyalty, productivity and efficiency. At the same time, they embrace practices that minimize negative effects on the environment to levels that are not detrimental to future activities or society as a whole.

The role of C-level, plant, engineering and operations managers is a familiar one: set priorities, ensure support, measure and reward results. Successful managers must understand how sustainability as an objective permeates existing activities, what new initiatives are most appropriate, and how you’ll know when you’re succeeding.

Sustainability offers many drivers and opportunities to improve operations, reduce costs, and hone an industrial facility’s competitive edge:

  • Market: Consumers increasingly recognize and prefer sustainable products from companies that demonstrate a commitment to the environment and social well-being. Companies that ignore this trend will miss opportunities.
  • Talent Management: In the face of an aging workforce and global competition for talent, organizations that take sustainability seriously are well positioned to attract and retain the most qualified employees.
  • Finance: Risks must be managed. Stakeholders demand increased transparency, and markets are measuring companies’ sustainability efforts.
  • Operations: Among many concerns, sustainability supports eliminating inefficiencies, improving the work environment, holding suppliers to a code of conduct, and ensuring access to limited resources such as water and energy.
  • Compliance: New regulations must be anticipated, understood and accommodated with minds open to the opportunities they present.
  • Strategy: Sustainability already is essential to survival in some markets. As the effects ripple through the supply chain, few industrial facilities will be unaffected.

Successful managers will understand the principles of sustainability, the technologies and tools commonly used for improvements, the economic and regulatory structures, and the accepted measurement, management and continuous improvement methodologies.

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