Sarah Blake talks to Angela Mezzetti about leadership in sustainability and her go-to songs to pick her up when things look bleak.
Kermit the Frog used to sing that ‘it’s not easy being green’. According to Sarah Blake of Earthology though, it is easier than you think. Staying positive, starting small but dreaming big, not getting overwhelmed is what is important. That and being resilient, when you meet resistance or when you get knocked back, getting up again.
For companies that she designs sustainability programmes for, aligning sustainability with business strategy is the real key to success. She advises them to look at their core products and services and see where improvements can be made. Sarah is a fan of the UN sustainability goals and asks companies and organisations to get familiar with them, adapt them and see if they can move to a circular economy model. Sarah Blake is a huge fan of Mary Robinson and her work on Climate Justice and urges people to read her book on the subject.
Language is key when discussing sustainability. It’s often a good idea to talk about innovation and transformation with a view to aligning sustainability with business strategy. Sell the positives of reducing carbon emissions and avoiding climate risk to senior management rather than the negatives.
Whether sustainability sits in CSR or procurement, all levels of management and staff need to be involved in solving issues. Green teams should have all departments involved. “Embrace collaboration with suppliers, clients and even competitors. Go beyond your company walls to have that wider impact that’s needed.”
Top 5 tips for sustainability leadership
- We need to develop the leaders of the future. We need to have individuals who are not afraid to reach out. Collaboration is key and there is a need for competitors to work together and that this is already happening.
- Communication needs to be done in a way that it presents a positive message she believes. “It is not about polar bears on a piece of ice or Koala bears in Australia, it has to be relevant to people and the imagery has to be relevant.”
- Dream big but start small. You need to have a radical future vision of what we have to do.
- Inspire the next generation, your management, your team and take small little steps and do more. Just by taking small steps maybe it could be a reusable coffee cup. No shaming you if you do forget your cup one day either.
- On strategy, when businesses align their strategic objectives with sustainability, that is when you see real change, what your purpose is with the future of the world and how it is.
Sarah Blakes go-to song is Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World, preferably with a David Attenborough documentary running in the background.
“When you see the biodiversity around us people need to know that without bees and flora we have no future.”
Sarah Blake also loves Anna Kendrick singing from the Trolls movie ‘I will get back up again.’
It’s about resilience which is what all green and climate change activists are going to need if the planet is to survive. It is not easy being green but it is a great place to start.