Key Learningsfrom the Shifting Patterns Workshop:

How to Communicate about Sustainability

Take a look at what we learnt from speakers from ACM, B Lab, WeTransfer, and

On Thursday November 16th 2023 we hosted the first Shifting Patterns Workshop: How to Communicate about Sustainability. 

The time for organisations to start talking about their sustainability policies and initiatives is now. But how do you talk about your process when you haven’t reached your goals? How do you ensure you are always clear and transparent? How do you avoid the Greenwashing pitfalls? And what does a sustainability communication strategy even look like?

This workshop was designed to answer all of these questions by combining inspiring presentations, stimulating activities, an insightful panel, and various networking opportunities. Throughout, attendees began to understand the power of positive communication, gathered the key do’s and don’t’s, and learnt from other’s successes and mistakes.

Throughout the afternoon we heard from a line-up of key experts and industry leaders:

Through this wide array of speakers we learnt about communicating about sustainability from a variety of angles and perspectives. However, we noticed that from each perspective (whether from the law, a creative agency, a network transforming the global economy, or industry leaders) there were similarities and reoccurrences between the key tips and insights. Below you’ll find our key learnings.

Our key learnings:

Combining the knowledge gathered from ACM, B Lab, and WeTransfer we learnt:

Engage, include, and inspire your stakeholders from the very beginning.

This is a crucial first step in making impact and counts especially for your internal organisation. Start by ensuring you understand your stakeholders’ expectations and values. Next motivate and inspire them to join them on your sustainability journey and communication strategy. This way sustainability becomes embedded throughout your organisation, and united you stand so much stronger.

Talk about the processand the journey.

Your stakeholders, workforce, and consumers don’t only care about your goals and end destination. Instead, they want to know where you are headed, and the concrete steps you are taking to get there.

Make all your sustainability claims and communication specific, detailed, and clear.

To avoid greenwashing or greenhushing avoid the use of any general terms or broad statements, and always substantiate the information with proof. ACM gave us an example demonstrating the the difference between a truck which is labelled as ‘green on the road’ and another which has ‘this is a fully electric truck’ written on the side. While the first statement leaves a lot of uncertainty as to which elements of the truck can be considered ‘green’, and what ‘green’ even means in this context, the second statement describes exactly what it is.

Be brutally honest.

In the age of Transparency, consumers don’t want to hear over-the-top stories about your achievements or unrealistic goals. Your audiences want to hear about your dilemma’s and want to experience your setbacks and mistakes with you.

Find frameworks that help you structure your sustainability journey and communication strategy.

This is a key learning we got from B lab. Becoming a certified B Corporation, for example, is a fantastic goal, but the process towards the certification can be an extremely useful tool to structure your strategy. When you view certification processes this way they can become guiding paths with all the right stepping stones towards the goals you want to achieve.

Creating trueimpact takes time.

Crafting, executing, and improving a sustainability policy and communication strategy is a long-term process, and requires a lot of time to get right. While looking back on their own journeys the speakers from and WeTransfer acknowledged how long it took them to get where they are now, and the journey which is still up ahead. Be patient, they reminded the audience, because change does not happen overnight. Taking a phased approach and setting clear goals, however, will help you get there in the long term.

Are you curious about more insider tips and tools, or want to make sure you don’t miss the next Shifting Patterns Workshop? Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know here.

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