'I knew it would be worthwhile': Overcoming challenges and instigating change

It is important for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility practitioners, including Community Involvement managers, to understand change and work with it. Change is the one constant in life accompanying both individuals and organizations, and adapting to change is business-essential to companies.

At the same time, there are things that people tend to dislike about change, and different personality types respond differently to it, displaying ‘typical’ reactions to change. People have different ways of looking at situations, and it is important to both be able to “see as if through their eyes” to understand them better – and then help them change perspectives.

A collective ‘way of seeing’ and ‘way of doing things around here’ is reflected in a company’s culture and values – that’s why it is important that Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability thinking become part of those. And once they become a part, how do you bring that to life? How do you make sure people go beyond lip service and really act on their proclaimed beliefs?

A highly effective way is engaging the whole organization through participative approaches, as those tend to create ‘ownership’ within the organization. We introduce a few approaches you can take.

We also recognize that often you need to ‘influence without authority’ – as an ‘invisible leader’. You need confidence and a good relational approach, and you need to develop your own authority. It also helps to get support from external sources.

In our best-practice interview, Dr. Mark Wade, former Head of Sustainable Development Policy, Strategy & Reporting and Head of Sustainable Development Learning at Shell, shares his approach to effectively integrating Sustainability thinking throughout the organization.

Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability and Community Involvement are long-term, whole organization change initiatives. It takes time, patience and perseverance to ‘mainstream’ them throughout the company. It’s a tough and complex job. At the same time, it’s a fantastic journey.