To place sustainability at the heart of business decision making, executive compensation packages need to be aligned with strategic sustainability targets. Without this link it is unlikely that sustainability will receive the attention and priority it deserves.

“The challenge of running a sustainable enterprise has taken center stage among shareholders. Last year, for example, Russell 3000 companies received 144 shareholder proposals requesting action on social and environmental issues. Meanwhile, in a survey of 89 institutional investors by Callan, 43% of respondents said they incorporate sustainability factors into their investment decisions — up 21 percentage points from 2013.” Harvard Business Review

When adding sustainability into the strategic objectives of an organisation it’s vital to be clear and smart about the goals and their timing. The UN has published a series of Sustainable Development Goals which can begin the high level discussion.

The Guardian has published an interesting article with examples of companies who have been doing this for some time and are seeing tangible and measurable strategic outcomes.

In the article they share, “In 2008, when Intel launched its sustainability goals for 2012, its leadership team took an unusual step to encourage employees to help: it linked environmental performance to every employee’s compensation, effectively making its sustainability goals everyone’s job.

“Everyone has an interest because everyone cares about their pay,” says Michael Jacobson, director of corporate responsibility. The incentive certainly paid off: by 2012, Intel’s greenhouse gas emissions were down 35% on an absolute basis and 28% on a per chip basis, its energy reductions were up and its operations were growing.” The Guardian

So the message is clear. To ensure that highest level goals and higher purpose are not only communicated throughout the organisation but adopted as every day practice in decision making and operations, personal performance targets must be intrinsically linked to them.

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